International Monetary Fund (IMF) members cause concern by dropping pledge to fight protectionism

 
William Turvill
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IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde Holds Her First Briefing
Christine Lagarde is managing director of the IMF (Source: Getty)

A group of International Monetary Fund (IMF) member countries has sparked concerns by dropping a pledge to fight trade protectionism.

An IMF statement on Saturday said its members would “work to promote a level playing field in international trade”.

But a previous pledge, made last October, to “resist all forms of protectionism” was not included in the latest statement from the IMF steering committee.

Read more: US calls IMF's warnings of protectionism "rubbish"

The apparent change of stance from the IMF comes after Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States last November. His administration is working towards cutting trade deficits and is pursuing an “America First” agenda.

Mexican central bank boss Agustin Carstens, who chairs the committee, tried to play down the significance of the omission, saying protectionism is a “relative term”.

“There is no country in the world that doesn't have any sort of provision or restriction on trade,” he said.

“So, instead of dwelling on what that concept means, we manage to sort of put it in, I would say, a more positive and more constructive framework.

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“And the membership agreed to counsel against inward-looking policies, and stressed that we should work to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies.

“This was a very strong consensus, and I think that is, I would say, a more positive or constructive way to address issues that at the end of the day have to do with free and also fair trade.”

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