IMF chief says building 'peer pressure' to follow trade rules

Heather SCOTT
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva says peer pressure is building for countries to follow trade rules (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

Washington (AFP) - With trade tensions undermining confidence and global growth, economic leaders are increasingly pushing each other to fix the shortcomings behind the disputes, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Saturday.

Trade is typically an engine of economic growth but with the United States and China engulfed in massive tariff battle and Britain's divorce from the European Union still not settled and a month-end deadline fast approaching, growth in international commerce has come to a virtual standstill, Georgieva said.

"We need to look into what are the reasons we are not making more progress on trade and they are not just the relations between US and China," Georgieva told reporters.

Among finance officials gathered for the International Monetary Fund annual meeting, there was an understanding on "what are the issues that need to be addressed and building more, if you wish, peer pressure for everybody to play by the trade rule book."

In addition, countries must "be willing to expand and improve this rule book," especially to include services and e-commerce which are not covered by traditional agreements for trade in goods, she said at the close of the meetings.

The IMF projects the US-China trade dispute could shave $700 billion off the global economy by next year, mostly by undercutting confidence and freezing business investment.

The IMF's global growth estimate was revised downward to just 3.0 percent this year and a slightly better 3.4 percent in 2020.