The IMF hopes that the US and its trading partners can avoid a trade war as the Trump Administration says it is preparing import tarrifs on steel and aluminum, spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters Thursday (March 8) in Washington.
“While the U.S. administration has announced its intention to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum a formal adoption of such tariffs is still pending, and I think that's important to say because in that context, it's going to be very important to learn the details of such a measure, including, the scope of the products affected, whether any training partners would be exempt, and whether there might be some flexibility in either the use of tariffs or import quotas,” Rice said.
Rice pointed to comments made this week by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde urging the US and its partners to work out disputes through the WTO and multilateral frameworks rather than taking unilateral actions.
“In a ‘trade war’ that would be fueled by a reciprocal increase in tariffs, no one wins. There are usually losers on both sides,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a radio interview Tuesday.
“In that spirit we encourage the U.S. and its trading partners to work constructively together, to reduce trade barriers, and to resolve trade disagreements without resorting to exceptional measures,” Rice added.
The IMF also welcomes the ECB decision to keep interest rates at their current levels, but with the goal of dropping its easing bias, said Rice.
“The ECB has again underlined its commitment to maintaining strong monetary accommodation. Rates will remain low, well past the horizon of net asset purchases, and net purchases can be extended beyond September if necessary,” Rice told reporters.
“The decision today to drop an explicit reference to possible future increases in the monthly pace of the ECB’s net asset purchases reflects an improving balance of risks,” he added. “So, we are supportive of the ECB decision today.”
And the IMF remains in active dialogue with Ukrainian authorities, but no date has been set for the next review mission or board discussion, Rice told reporters.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told the Financial Times this week in an interview that international donors should not push too hard on reforms in his country such as setting up an independent anti-corruption court.
The IMF has set out a framework of reform measures that must be addressed before it can release the next $1.9 billion USD of financial support to Kiev.
A small staff team from the IMF was in Kiev to hold discussions with Ukraine officials in February and no date has yet been set for a follow-up.
More on the IMF relationship with Ukraine can be found athttp://www.imf.org/en/Countries/UKR