Protectionism's rise a balancing act for World Bank, IMF

With the US presidential elections a month away, the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund kicked off this week in Washington with a stern warning

Protectionism's rise a balancing act for World Bank, IMF

World Bulletin / News Desk

Protectionism's rise in Europe and the United States is pushing the world's economic leaders toward a delicate balancing act: defending globalization but acknowledging the pain that sometimes comes with it.

For the world to turn its back on trade now would only worsen the ills of a flagging global economy.

"Increasing pressure for inward-looking policies are a particular threat to the global outlook," the IMF said in downgrading growth forecasts for advanced economies, pushing concerns about Deutsche Bank's stability and China's commercial debt binge into the background.

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, urged world governments to banish "the storm clouds of isolationism and protectionism," saying that open borders had lifted a billion people out of poverty in over a quarter century.

Long bandied about by the major international financial institutions, this message faces an increasingly unreceptive audience.

In the United States, long a bastion of trade liberalization, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has rallied supporters by promising a trade war with China and retaliatory import duties on Mexico.

Across the Atlantic, the British vote to secede from the European Union threatens to spur other countries to roll back economic integration in Europe. The free-trade pact currently under negotiation with the United States, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, faces stiff resistance in Europe.

Bit by bit, globalization finds itself accused of depressing wages, causing industrial decline and keeping low-skilled workers unemployed.

Against a backdrop of sluggish global trade, these accusations extend far beyond the insular clique of activist NGOs and are starting to threaten established dogma.

But Germany says it will hold the line.

"We are committed to build an open world economy, reject protectionism, promote global trade and investment," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said in a statement published Wednesday on the IMF's web site.

And for now, only a few countries, such as Poland, have gone so far as to enact protectionist measures.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ekim 2016, 11:07