World Economy

IMF's Lagarde: Confident G-20 will achieve target by next summit

Reporting by Matthew Taylor | Writing by John Phillips
IMF's Lagarde: G-20's growth target is achievable
IMF's Lagarde: G-20's growth target is achievable

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is confident that the Group of 20 will achieve their target of boosting global growth by 2 percentage points in time for the November summit in Brisbane, she told CNBC on Sunday.

"That's the commitment, that's the goal. The fact that the finance ministers have achieved a global commitment of 1.8 [percentage points] of additional growth by the baseline is a strong indication that they will hit the 2 [percentage point] target," she said at the G-20 meeting in Cairns, Australia.

"I can't see how by being 10 percent away from the target they would arrive at the Brisbane leaders summit without having reached the 2 [percentage point] target. So I'm confident they will get there," she said.

Read More G-20: Europe, Japan must do more to support growth

While the G-20 communiqué from the summit in Cairns said that "growth in the global economy is uneven and remains below the pace required to adequately generate much needed jobs" and "the global economy still faces persistent weakness in demand, and supply-side constraints hamper growth", Lagarde believes leaders capable of tackling these issues.

William West | AFP | Getty Images

"The key concern that everyone has at the moment is 'what growth will deliver the jobs around the world which are so badly needed, especially for young people?' There was a lot of talk about it, and [I think] that leaders will be able to identify labor market reforms likely to unleash more growth and job potential," she said.

Each plays their part

Amid calls that some member countries need to do more to support growth, Germany in particular, Lagarde said that every country has to do its part.

"What we're learning is that each and every country is in a position of its own. Long gone are the days where you could say '2 percent stimulus across the board,' or 'you should all consolidate,'" she said. "Each and every country is a specific case, has a specific story and narrative."

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"A country like Germany definitely has a surplus and is balancing its budget. It is committing to invest in infrastructure, which clearly is needed, and there is slack in the economy that will allow that and will help the euro zone. Now, the more they can do, the better, but equally they have to be mindful of the equilibrium they must have in their domestic market," she said.

We'll likely see a mixed bag of reforms and policy that will be more neutral for some countries and more accommodating for others, she said. "But it's going to be on the per-country basis, not across the board."

Emerging markets prepared

Emerging markets sold off sharply when the U.S. Federal Reserve first broached the topic of tapering its asset purchase program last year. With the U.S. central bank currently near the end of its easing program and a potential rate hike on the horizon in the first half of 2015, Lagarde said another fallout seems unlikely as everyone has learned a lesson.

"It happened almost a year and a half ago now," she said. "I think everyone has learned a lesson in the process and some of the emerging market economies sort of renewed their buffers and built up a potential response in case of a shock."

"On the other hand, the central bankers of those economies like the Fed and the Bank of England know that with good communication and with good anticipation on their part, markets will understand what is coming up, when it's coming up and we'll avoid the 'tapering tantrum' that we had a year and a half ago," she said.

IMF believes that China can deliver 7.5% growth
IMF believes that China can deliver 7.5% growth

China to achieve growth target

A recent spat of poor economic data exacerbated concerns about slowing activity in China's economy. Consumer inflation eased to 2 percent in August from 2.3 percent in July, data in early September showed, below expectations in a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, factory output grew 6.9 percent on-year in August - the slowest pace in six years.

Poor economic data raised speculation that the People's Bank of China (PBOC) would undertake measures to stimulate the economy. Last week, Chinese media reported that the PBOC would distribute 500 billion yuan ($81 billion) to its five largest banks through standing lending facilities - a tool that allows banks and commercial lenders to ask the central bank for one to three-month loans – largely viewed as a form of quantitative easing.

Read More As G-20 chases growth goal, members differ on how to get there

Despite concerns about the economy, Lagarde expects China to achieve the 7.5 percent growth target set at the annual meeting of the legislature in Beijing in March.

"When the Chinese authorities set objectives, they generally make sure they deliver," she said.

"What we've heard from Chinese colleagues is that they are on a course to deliver 7.5 [percent growth], but equally the Chinese authorities are saying that gradually over time it might be lower than 7.5 [percent] and it might gradually phase down, which would be normal given the development cycle of the economy."

Regarding Australia's reliance on China - it's largest trading partner - to support growth, Lagarde doesn't see cause for concern.

"I trust the Australian business community to be smart enough to see where the wind is going, and there are clearly in this part of the world, countries that will develop and generate growth, probably at a stronger pace than they have recently," she said.

"I think of India in particular, and Indonesia, which are both countries where the economy is probably going to pick up and not take the baton from China – China will continue to be a very an active and ardent economic player – but there might be more balance," she said.