IMF, Trump Administration Can Improve Global Trade — IMF's Lagarde

Germany's Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble joined by German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann left and Friederike von Tiesenhausen spokesperson for Schäuble and Head of the Media Division speaks during the G20 news conference

As the meetings got started, two blocks away at the White House, Trump signed a directive to study whether steel imports into the United States could be restricted for national security reasons under a law passed in 1962.

World finance leaders, confronted by a growing backlash against globalization, will seek to build support for free trade by finding ways to help those left behind.

The IMF in particular has sounded warnings against Trump's "America First" agenda which aims to shrink United States trade deficits with potential measures to restrict imports.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told reporters: "We're encouraged to see stronger economic prospects after years of disappointing global growth".

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said that the answer to the wave of populism gaining support in many countries was to work for "more growth and better growth" in the world economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives for a meeting with Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie meet during the G20 at the 2017 World Bank Group Spring Meetings in Washington, Friday, April 21, 2017.

Trump tapped into a rising backlash against free trade during the campaign, pledging that he would impose punitive tariffs of up to 45 percent on countries such as China and Mexico which he blamed for pursuing unfair trade practices that were hurting American workers.

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Trump has long promised to also label China a "currency manipulator" but he backed off that stance last week after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Trump administration has complained about Germany's high trade surplus with the United States.

Le Pen has pledged to take France out of the eurozone and stage a referendum on exiting the European Union, as Britain voted to do previous year.

"These processes of modernization, which are barely comprehensible to many people, are triggering defense reactions", said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, speaking to a different Washington audience on Thursday. Governments should respond with "broad-based rehabilitation" of communities hurt by lost manufacturing-a situation almost entirely due to technological advances rather than trade, even though trade is blamed, he said. However, IMF remained neutral and the director said: "Our understanding is that that demonetization has now been remedied at about 75 percent, which is the latest March figure that we have and which shows clearly that the situation is now being mended".

"It will be sweeping, it will be significant and it will create a lot of economic growth", Mnuchin said.

"The IMF is not a trade organization, but we are concerned about trade because it has been a major engine for growth", Lagarde noted.

Lagarde said: "Trade and financial integration and technology lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, boosted incomes, expanded access to goods and services, accelerated knowledge transfer, and provided new opportunities for investment".

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