News from Asia and the Pacific

IMF Managing Director Lagarde Calls for Stronger Cooperation at G20 Summit


June 29, 2019, Osaka, Japan Before leaving Osaka after the G20 Summit, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde issued a statement urging world leaders to reduce trade barriers and strengthen international cooperation for a more sustainable global economy.

Ms. Lagarde joined the summit of the Group of 20 countries to discuss pressing issues and common challenges in the global economy. While the leaders aimed for solutions to various challenges, ranging from international taxation to the digital economy to climate change, the two-day summit was overshadowed by global concerns about the US-China trade situation and its impact.

At the conclusion of the summit, the G20 leaders issued a declaration that they will work together to foster global economic growth and push technological innovation forward for the benefit of all. Ms. Lagarde, meanwhile, reiterated her concerns that “the global economy has hit a rough patch” and that “the risks to the outlook remain serious.” Although she welcomed the resumption of trade talks between the US and China, she said that the tariffs imposed are already holding back the world economy and creating uncertainty for the future.

“The priority should be to reduce obstacles to trade—new and old, tariffs and otherwise—and to address the underlying sources of trade tensions and distortions,” she said. “We need a trading system fit for today’s world which means addressing gaps in the international rule book, including areas like agricultural and industrial subsidies, services and e-commerce.”

During her stay in Osaka, the third largest city of Japan and the center of the Kansai region, Ms. Lagarde presented the IMF’s views and ways in which the institution can help move the G20 agenda forward, while fostering ties with its member countries and listening to the voices of local people.

In a special event on women’s empowerment, the Managing Director joined the leaders of other international organizations to present the IMF’s contributions on gender issues. She delivered a booklet on the IMF’s work on gender to the host country Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to show that women’s economic empowerment is a game changer for global economic growth.

Between her official engagements in the sessions and the side events, Ms. Lagarde held a series of bilateral meetings and conversations with leaders of G20 member countries and others.

In the course of two days, the Managing Director met with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, President Macky Sall of Senegal and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to exchange views on pressing issues in the global economy. She also held conversations with the leaders of Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, the UK and the US.

Upon her arrival in Osaka on June 27, the Managing Director participated in a reception organized by the Kansai Promotion Council for the summit and visited exhibition booths displaying innovative high-technology solutions for challenges faced by Japan’s aging society. She tried out robotic gear to boost power to lift heavy items, which was developed by a venture business of the University of Wakayama, and tasted softened food prepared with a new machine for those who lose the ability to chew. “It’s a new industry,” she commented after listening to the entrepreneur’s concept for the development of the device.

The Managing Director also took part in the official welcome reception organized by Prime Minister Abe and enjoyed watching the cultural performance before tasting Osaka cuisine presented through the host’s omotenashi.

Upon the conclusion of the summit, she expressed her great appreciation to the host government, the city of Osaka and the people of Japan for their hospitality and for holding the summit.