Washington – Donald Trump’s trade war with China and Europe is forecast to hit global growth this year and reverberate through 2019, the International Monetary Fund has warned in its latest health check on the global economy.
The escalation of the US president’s protectionist policies, which has resulted in the world’s largest economy doubling import duties on some Chinese goods, has dragged down the forecast for growth this year and next, with the world’s largest trading countries, including the US, France, Germany and China, among the hardest hit.
Britain is also expected to suffer slower growth against a backdrop of trade conflicts, though Brexit uncertainty continues to inflict the most harm to the UK’s outlook for expansion this year and next, IMF officials said.
The IMF said that even without a further deterioration in US and China relations, the global economy would grow this year at 3.7% and at the same rate in 2019 compared with the 3.9% it predicted for both years in an interim report in April.
The Washington-based lender’s economists are usually reluctant to name and shame individual countries, but it is clear that attacks by the Trump administration on the postwar consensus of open trade and cooperation over issues such as climate change has prompted more direct references to the US than previously seen.
In its world economic outlook, which is published twice a year, with the latest issued before the fund’s annual meeting in Bali this week, officials warned that the lingering threat of higher trade barriers meant there was a greater likelihood it would downgrade its growth forecasts during its next review.
Officials at the fund said much of the decline in global growth was also the result of many developing countries being hit hard by a depreciation in their currencies, which had increased the cost of imports and especially oil.
Last month, the US president slapped extra duties on $200bn (£153bn) of Chinese goods and China retaliated with extra duties on $60bn of US goods. This followed an earlier increase in US duties on the import of steel, aluminium and cars.