Countries should help those hurt by free trade

"Together with a risk of protectionism in advanced economies and tighter financial conditions as United States monetary policy normalizes, these changes make for a more challenging environment for emerging market and developing economies going forward", the World Economic Outlook report said. It calls on countries to put in place necessary measures to help those who lose out in global competition.

It said the world´s richer countries should help workers affected by trade liberalization, which has grown increasingly unpopular in the post-financial crisis era, driving a rise in protectionism.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) recognized today that international trade is at a "critical" moment.

Lagarde, speaking ahead of next week's International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, argued for countries to strengthen the post-war open trade architecture by cooperating multilaterally to solve trade issues such as reducing excessive external imbalances.

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Still, the three multinational groups insist that greater progress toward freer trade is "important to reinvigorating global growth", repeating their longstanding view that free trade spreads broad economic benefits.

The chiefs of the IMF, WTO and OECD vowed on Monday in a joint statement to defend free trade against creeping protectionist trends, amid growing global alarm over US President Donald Trump's "America First" call.

They also said stressed the importance of fighting climate change and protecting resources.

Roberto Azevedo, the head of the WTO, said after the meeting with Merkel that it was important to note the positive impacts of trade.

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The report also acknowledges that while bilateral and regional trade deals have a role to play, a strong global trading system based on the WTO is critical: "Strong, well-enforced trade rules help to promote competition and to reassure citizens that worldwide trade is evenhanded", it says. "We need to ensure the benefits of trade are shared more widely".

The IMF World Economic Outlook for 2017 also projects that raise in U.S. interest rates and a rising protectionist rhetoric in advanced economies would slow the growth of emerging economies this year. Over the longer term, countries highly dependent on one or a few commodity products should work to diversify their export bases.

The institutions cited research finding that manufacturing regions that were more exposed to imports from China since about 2000 saw "significant and persistent losses in jobs and earnings, falling most heavily on low-skilled workers". Adjustment to trade can bring a human and economic downside that is frequently concentrated, sometimes harsh, and has too often become prolonged, it added.

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