Global finance leaders grapple with globalization fears

Apr 23, 2017, 02:11
Global finance leaders grapple with globalization fears

In addition, in language that could be seen as a jab at Germany - which posted a record trade surplus a year ago - Mnuchin said that "countries with large external surpluses and sound public finances have a particular responsibility for contributing to a more robust global economy".

An IMF communique released on Saturday said officials "are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".

This year's meetings were dominated by a debate over how to respond to a rising tide of anti-globalization sentiment evidenced in the United States by the election of President Donald Trump, who pledged during last year's campaign that he would reduce America's huge trade deficits which he blamed for the loss of millions of good-paying factory jobs.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, speaking at the same briefing as Carstens, said the statement reflects support for her global policy agenda, which includes a call for countries to "not leave the mounting economic consequences of climate change for future generations".

Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens, who heads the International Monetary Fund steering committee, said protectionism is a "relative term" and "ambiguous".

Some positions remained little changed.

"There is no country that does not have any proviso or restriction on trade", Carstens said in a news conference.

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"We all want free and fair trade and that is what is reflected in the communique", he told reporters when asked why the language on protectionism had been dropped. "The notion of allowing for freer trade has run up against the Trump administration's conviction that its major trading partners are manipulating trade and currency policies to their own benefit".

"Targeting and dismantling the financial networks of terrorist organisations is a top US priority, and improving anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) systems is critical to this goal", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said in his address to the International Monetary Fund.

The comments came a day after Trump ordered the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate whether steel imports posed a threat to U.S. national security - a move that could lead to the U.S. imposing tariffs on steel.

If more isn't done, "we will see more protectionism and countries retreating from globalization", said Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble. With the UK set to expand by 2pc in 2017, outstripping Germany, France, Japan and second only to the United States, the International Monetary Fund last week became the latest in a long line of official forecasters to ditch predictions of British economic woe after last summer's Brexit vote.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated that the US focus will be on "more rigorously defending ourselves against unfair trade practices" including against countries with large surpluses.

The outlook for the world economy is sunnier than six months ago, with the statement saying that the "global economic recovery is gaining momentum, commodity prices have firmed up, and deflation risks are receding". "The economy has very strong buffers", the official said.

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