Experts say the US's reluctance for a quota reform that includes a realignment of voting shares stems from concerns that such an exercise would inevitably give more voting power to China.

China accounts for about 18% of the global economy, yet it enjoys just a little over 6% of the IMF's voting share. This discrepancy means Beijing would be the biggest beneficiary of a quota realignment. Currently, the US is the biggest shareholder with a 16.5% share, effectively giving it veto power since major decisions need 85% approval.

The US administration has to seek congressional approval for any IMF quota reform. It took the government years to get Congress to put its stamp on the 2010 reform that increased China's voting at the expense of European countries.

"Bringing anything to Congress right now in this very polarizing environment, both domestically and internationally, that includes more weight for China, I think would be impossible," Karen Mathiasen from the Center for Global Development think tank told DW.


When the U.S. Congress discussed about increasing China's voting shares within the IMF, what were the arguments for and against that were used? This article describes that the U.S. had to put a stamp on the 2010 reform that increased China's voting at the expense of European countries, and that it took years to get it done. I am trying to think why the U.S. back then even agreed to give China more voting rights within the IMF. I feel there wasn't any advantage for the U.S. to do so.


1 Answer 1


Details on this are a bit nebulous to me. After rejecting the reform in Jan 2014 Congress approved them in Dec 2015 (or thereabout). The irony is that the Republicans increased their share of seats in Congress in the 2014 midterms.

So, maybe they were persuaded by the pro/cons laid out in a CRS report from early 2015:

Arguments for Reforms: Proponents argue that the reform package is necessary for maintaining the effectiveness and legitimacy of the IMF as the central institution for international macroeconomic stability. The IMF’s core source of funding needs to be increased, they argue, in order to give the IMF the resources that it needs to respond effectively to financial crises. They also argue that the under-representation of emerging economies at the IMF is broadly perceived as unfair and reduces the support of several member countries for IMF programs and initiatives.

Arguments against Reforms: Opponents argue that since the IMF has found other ways to supplement its resources during economic crises, the IMF’s core funding source does not need to be increased. Opponents are also skeptical that emerging economies support the existing norms and values of international financial institutions, and that these countries may prefer financial and trade strategies that are less aligned with those of the United States.

Potential Impact on the United States: Implementing the reforms would not increase total U.S. financial commitments to the IMF and would have little impact on U.S. representation at the IMF. [...] The share of U.S. voting power at the IMF would fall slightly, but the United States would still maintain its unique veto power over major policy decisions.

Various sources note that China had set up its own parallel funding mechanism -- the AIIB. I'm not sure if that was a key issue, but probably it added pressure. The AIIB formally opened in Jan 2016.

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