The Latest: Southeast Asian leaders affirm free trade goals
NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — The Latest on the IMF-World Bank annual meeting (all times local):
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have reaffirmed their commitment to open trading systems that have underpinned their economic growth.
The leaders met Thursday in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the group will redouble efforts to reach a “substantial conclusion” to a regional trade arrangement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, by the end of the year.
That initiative includes China, India and Japan, but not the United States.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said ASEAN, which includes wealthy Singapore and poorer countries like Myanmar and Laos, also is determined to close gaps in development within ASEAN.
He said: “This is important, to make sure that no one is left behind.”
About a dozen activists have staged a brief, peaceful protest at the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Bali, Indonesia.
Representatives of various rights groups held up placards and chanted “Defend peoples’ rights!” and “Stop the attacks!” outside meeting rooms Thursday at a convention center where media and civil society groups are gathered during the annual meeting.
Those involved had badges allowing them to enter the tightly guarded venue.
Members of advocacy groups for women, farmers and workers said their gathering of about 500 at a hotel in the city of Denpasar, miles from the conference, was twice shut down by police.
An IMF staff member said she would discuss the issue and bring it to the “highest levels.”
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said a bailout package for Pakistan would need to be fully transparent.
Lagarde said Thursday that she had not yet seen a formal request for help but thought she might receive one later in the day when meeting with Pakistan’s finance minister.
He said earlier this week the country would seek assistance to help it weather a financial crisis.
Pakistan is one of a number of countries that have accepted Chinese financing for projects of Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” for building roads, ports and other infrastructure across the globe.
Lagarde said help for the country would have to take into account what debts are owed to whom. She said the issue of “debt transparency” applies to all countries.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde says the U.S. and China should de-escalate their trade dispute and work to fix trade rules instead of breaking them.
Lagarde told reporters Thursday at the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank in Bali, Indonesia, that so far there had been no “contagion” of major damage from penalty tariffs imposed by the two countries on each other’s exports, but that they do risk hurting “innocent bystanders.”
Lagarde said her advice was in three parts: “De-escalate. Fix the system. Don’t break it.”
She said the rules-making World Trade Organization had ways of addressing U.S. complaints that China’s policies unfairly extract advanced technologies and put foreign companies at a disadvantage.
But she said the WTO does need to work on addressing issues like subsidies.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says the trade tensions escalating between the U.S. and China could undo global progress in helping end extreme poverty.
Speaking at the outset Thursday of the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on the island of Bali in Indonesia, joined the IMF’s chief in warning of the risks to world growth and economic development from threats to world trade.
The U.S. has imposed tariffs on tens of millions of dollars of Chinese exports and Beijing has responded with similar retaliatory taxes on imports of U.S. goods.
Kim said the most extreme measures, if imposed would cause a “clear slowdown.”
He said that without free trade, there would be no hope of helping millions of people escape dire poverty.