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IMF chief warns vs trade curbs

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HONG KONG — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is optimistic on global growth prospects but warned dark clouds are looming due to fading fiscal stimulus and rising interest rates, the fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, said on Wednesday.

In a speech in Hong Kong, Ms. Lagarde said the top priorities for the global economy are to steer clear of protectionism, guard against financial risk and foster long-term growth.

“History shows that import restrictions hurt everyone, especially poorer consumers,” she said. “Not only do they lead to more expensive products and more limited choices, but they also prevent trade from playing its essential role in boosting productivity and spreading new technologies.”

The best way to tackle global imbalances is to use fiscal tools or structural reforms, she said, adding that World Trade Organization rules were in danger of being “torn apart.” — Reuters