IMF withdraws vow to combat protectionism

Washington: International Monetary Fund member countries pledged to create a level playing field in global trade but withdrew a promise made in previous meetings to combat protectionism.

Even though as recently as an IMF meeting in October the members had promised to fight different forms of protectionism, that vow is absent from the final communique of the annual Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and IMF, which end on Sunday.

Mexican Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens, chairman of the IMF’s policy advisory committee, said on Saturday the term protectionism had been removed from different sections of the communique because it is very ambiguous, Efe news reported.

He said the IMF countries focused on what they can achieve together and stressed the importance of free and fair trade, a point on which all members are in agreement.

Carstens did not say whether the decision to remove language about fighting protectionism was due to the new trade stance of the US.

US President Donald Trump formally withdrew his nation from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after taking office and has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade

Agreement, saying it has destroyed American manufacturing jobs and led to trade deficits with Mexico that total $60 billion annually.

It has been apparent during the meetings in Washington — attended by senior US officials — that the US’s protectionist turn has generated concern at the IMF and the World Bank, traditional stalwarts of a global economic order based on the drive toward further globalization and free trade.