IMF chief criticises Trump-style anti-free trade politics

The Republican candidate says that key trade agreements are damaging the country's economy...

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund has criticised the anti-free trade sentiments expressed by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

While Christine Lagarde said that trade competition from 'low-cost' countries like China has affected workers in Western economies, she believes that the solution is for policy-makers in these countries to increase minimum wages, offer comprehensive welfare packages, and to invest in education. She highlighted clamping down on tax evasion as one way to raise revenue.

"There is a growing risk of politicians seeking office by promising to ‘get tough’ with foreign trade partners through punitive tariffs or other restrictions on trade. I am deeply concerned about this – not only because I was a minister of trade, but because trade has been at the heart of the IMF’s mandate for more than 70 years," she said in a passage of her speech which seemed to be directed at Donald Trump's oppositions to free trade deals.

Ms Lagarde added that she recognises that "progress has not come for everybody at the same pace ... There is no doubt that the transformation of our economies has also brought dislocation and hardship."

The IMF chief added that the solution to free trade's short-comings is not protectionism - rather she proposes that nations need to "pursue policies that extend the benefits of openness and integration while alleviating their side effects."