Protectionism a risk to global growth: Lagarde


WASHINGTON — The growing temptation to resort to protectionism and uncertainty in Europe linked to the French elections pose “risks” to the global economy, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday. In a speech in Brussels ahead of next week’s Spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, the IMF leader said “there are clear downside risks” to the world economic outlook, including “political uncertainty, including in Europe” and “the sword of protectionism hanging over global trade.” In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Lagarde pointed to the high level of uncertainty surrounding the French presidential election in less than two weeks, and the German general elections scheduled for the autumn.

She said she worries about either election given that “the track record in the last few months has been the realization of unpredictable results,” including Brexit. The world economy is experiencing stronger growth but “protectionism is clearly a threat,” she warned.