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June 26, 2018

Trade tensions emerging at a ‘frustrating moment’: IMF’s Lagarde

Trade tensions emerging at a ‘frustrating moment’: IMF’s Lagarde
FILE PHOTO: Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (WMF)
 attends a news conference with representatives of the trade organizations after a meeting
 in the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The recent imposition of import duties by the U.S. and counter-measures by other countries have come at a “frustrating moment” when policymakers should be working on longer term issues, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

The IMF warned earlier this month that U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies, including the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on key allies, pose a threat to undermine the global trading system.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that with the global economy in a reasonably good place – with GDP growth of 3.9 percent forecast this year “provided things go in the right direction” – policymakers should instead be concentrating on issues such as climate change, inequality and debt.

“In a way it is quite a frustrating moment because we have been through 10 years of re-architecturing, reinforcing the system … and we currently have on a global basis growth pretty much on a par with what we had before the crisis,” Lagarde told a conference in Dublin.

“If you start undermining international trade by putting in place barriers, quotas, non tariff barriers and bringing that level of uncertainty … That is particularly frustrating for those of us who have worked hard to improve the system. That is why we are concerned.”

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