IMF-WB calls to brace for risks

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Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), pauses during the Bank of England's "Independence - 20 Years On" conference at Fishmongers' Hall in the City of London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. The conference marks two decades of independence from the government. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — Global financial leaders wrapped up an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Saturday by urging countries to brace for potential risks from trade disputes and other tensions.

The meetings in Bali, Indonesia, this week were overshadowed by a spate of financial market turmoil and by the threat to global growth from the trade clash between the US and China over Beijing’s technology policies.

The International Monetary and Financial Committee, which advises the IMF’s board of governors, issued a communique on Saturday urging countries to keep debt under control, engineer policies to ensure credit is available in line with their levels of inflation and ensure sustained economic growth “for the benefit of all.”

IMF members also pledged to avoid devaluing currencies to seek a trade advantage by making a country’s exports relatively cheaper.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that while global growth is still strong, it has leveled off. The IMF started the meetings in Bali by downgrading its 2018 estimate for global growth to a still robust 3.7 percent from an earlier forecast of 3.9 percent.

“I think it’s not inconsistent to have a plateaued growth and downside risks that are the clouds on the horizon, some of which have begun to open up,” Lagard said. Adding that given the level of debt around the world, “we’ve given strong recommendations and in terms of trade: de-escalate and please dialogue.”

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