World Economy

IMF's new chief Georgieva warns of 'synchronized slowdown' in global growth

Key Points
  • New International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva kicks off with a warning.
  • IMF research suggests the cumulative effect of trade conflicts could mean a $700 billion reduction in global GDP output by 2020.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva delivers her curtain raiser speech previewing the key issues to be addressed in the Annual Meetings in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2019.
NICHOLAS KAMM | AFP | Getty Images

New International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva issued a stark warning about the state of the global growth on Tuesday, saying trade conflicts had thrown it into a "synchronized slowdown" and must be resolved.

In her inaugural speech after taking over the global crisis lender on Oct. 1, Georgieva unveiled new IMF research showing that the cumulative effect of trade conflicts could mean a $700 billion reduction in global GDP output by 2020, or around 0.8%.

The research takes into account U.S. President Donald Trump's announced and planned tariff increases on remaining Chinese imports, or around $300 billion worth of goods. Much of the GDP losses will come from a decline of business confidence and negative market reactions, she said.

"In 2019, we expect slower growth in nearly 90 percent of the world. The global economy is now in a synchronized slowdown. This means that growth this year will fall to its lowest rate since the beginning of the decade," Georgieva said.

The Bulgarian economist, a former European Union official who previously held the number two job at the World Bank Group, said that trade had "come to a near standstill."

She warned that fractures in trade could lead to changes that last a generation, including "broken supply chains, siloed trade sectors, a 'digital Berlin Wall' that forces countries to choose between technology systems.'"

In calling for countries to work together to revise global trade rules to make them sustainable, she referenced frequent complaints about China's trade practices, without specifically naming the country.

"That means dealing with subsidies, as well as intellectual property rights and technology transfers," she said, adding that a modernized trading system would unlock the potential of services and e-commerce.

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