March 23, 2017 / 3:18 PM / 10 months ago

IMF says G20 communique aims to improve trade architecture

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund viewed a shift in trade language in last weekend’s communique from the Group of 20 major economies showing consensus to improve the global trade architecture, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.

The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden-Baden, Germany agreed to demands from the new U.S. Trump administration to drop a decade-old pledge to “resist all forms of protectionism.”

In its place, the group pledged to “strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies”. The language was viewed by some participants as preserving U.S. flexibility on trade policy..

“The way I looked at the communique, I think we saw actually G20 consensus revolving around improving, not abandoning, the architecture of free trade,” Rice told a regular news briefing. “Of course how individual countries approach that improvement process is up to them.”

Rice added that IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde emphasized that G20 countries should “avoid self-inflicted wounds” that would reduce trade.

“We should avoid policies that would seriously undermine trade and openness and productivity,” Rice said, adding that the IMF views open trade and productivity growth as helping to boost incomes and living standards. (Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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