Lagarde: Globalisation must be different

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde speaks after her meeting with the Nigerian president in Abuja. (Philip Ojisua, AFP)
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde speaks after her meeting with the Nigerian president in Abuja. (Philip Ojisua, AFP)

Washington - Globalisation has largely benefited the world but must be "different" in the future, with world governments working more to prevent persistent inequality, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday.

"We know that globalisation has worked over the years that it has delivered great benefits to many people," Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund's managing director, told reporters on Thursday at the opening of joint annual meetings with the World Bank.

"We don't think it's time to push against it," said Lagarde, pointing specifically to the rising debate over free trade.

"It needs to be slightly different, it cannot be that be that push for trade as we have seen it historically."

Both the IMF and the World Bank, longtime supporters of free trade, face a political climate in which trade liberalization is increasingly unpopular.

The failure to support displaced workers and others affected by globalisation has encouraged protectionist sentiment in the developed world, according the IMF.

Voters in Britain this year voted to secede from the European Union and both US presidential nominees have said they oppose the White House's signature Pacific Rim trade pact.

Lagarde called on member states to make the forces of economic globalisation "work for all and to pay attention to those that are at risk of being left out, whether it is as result of technology digital economy or international trade."

Also addressing reporters on Thursday, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim likewise acknowledged the need for inclusive economic development.

"Our research shows that inequality is still far too high, both globally and within countries, constraining growth and breeding instability," he said.

"We need to focus on growth and continue to reduce inequality - and we have to make growth more equitable, and more sustainable."

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