IMF team in Ethiopia for talks on new funding programme -Bloomberg News

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo at its headquarters in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

(Reuters) - International Monetary Fund officials are in Ethiopia this week doing technical work to prepare for a potential IMF-supported program for the East African country, an IMF spokesperson said on Monday.

The IMF has received a request for financial assistance from Ethiopian authorities to support its economic reforms, the spokesperson said, noting the country had been hit by multiple shocks including drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic conflicts, and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

"A potential program would support the authorities’ Homegrown Economic Reform program and help Ethiopia stabilize its economy so that it can meet its economic, humanitarian, and social challenges, create jobs, and reduce poverty," the spokesperson said.

This week's technical discussions follow ongoing discussions between the IMF and Ethiopian authorities on how to best address humanitarian and economic challenges, the spokesperson added.

Bloomberg, which first reported the IMF visit, said officials from the global lender were expected to stay 10 days.

The IMF said it welcomed Ethiopia's strong progress towards restoring lasting peace and stability through the “cessation of hostilities agreement” and said implementation had progressed well, including through restoration of humanitarian assistance and basic services to Tigray.

Progress on the IMF program and Ethiopia's request for debt relief under the Group of 20 Common Framework had been stalled due in part to the conflict in Tigray.

The United States, the biggest shareholder in the IMF, is working to repair ties after outspoken criticism of alleged atrocities by Ethiopian forces and their allies during the Tigray war, which killed tens of thousands of people before a peace accord was reached last November.

(Reporting by Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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