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World Bank chief's sudden exit to test Trump

World Bank chief's sudden exit to test Trump

Kim's unexpected departure almost three years before his term was set to expire is likely to set off a fierce battle between the Donald Trump administration and other countries which have complained about the influence the United States exerts over the World Bank.

David Malpass, the Treasury's undersecretary for worldwide affairs, has questioned the need for additional resources for the World Bank and other global financial institutions, arguing instead that the lenders should focus more of their resources on poorer countries and lend less to middle-income countries such as China.

In an email to employees of the lender, Kim said he'll join a private firm focused on infrastructure investments in developing countries.

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim president upon Kim's February 1 departure, the bank said in a statement.

Those same developing countries have become "increasingly opposed to USA dominance over the global development bank", the report added.

He helped the lender win support from its member countries in April for a $US13 billion ($18.2 billion) capital increase, after the United States dropped proposals to limit the World Bank's resources.

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Naming Kim's replacement could mark a sharp break with the past as the Trump administration has repeatedly broken with multilateral institutions and conventions of which Trump himself has been highly critical. It has since focused on alleviating extreme poverty around the world. Its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, has always been led by a European, as part of an unwritten understanding between Western powers.

Other countries, including China and other Asian nations, have complained about this pattern.

"Serving as President and helping position the institution squarely in the middle of all these challenges has been a great privilege", Kim said. Korean-American Kim faced challengers from Nigeria and Colombia when he was first nominated in 2012.

Kim's permanent successor will be decided by the World Bank's board of directors.

He was awarded an Harvard Medical School in 1991, and a PhD in anthropology at Harvard University in 1993.

The Trump administration has enjoyed a close working relationship with Kim.