I.M.F. Sees Steady Growth but Warns of Rising Protectionism

The global economy is approaching a soft landing after several years of geopolitical and economic turmoil, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday. But it warned that risks remain, including stubborn inflation, the threat of escalating global conflicts and rising protectionism.

In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the I.M.F. projected global output to hold steady at 3.2 percent in 2024, unchanged from 2023. Although the pace of the expansion is tepid by historical standards, the I.M.F. said that global economic activity had been surprisingly resilient given that central banks aggressively raised interest rates to tame inflation and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East further disrupt supply chains.

The forecasts came as policymakers from around the world began arriving in Washington for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The outlook is brighter from just a year ago, when the I.M.F. was warning of underlying “turbulence” and a multitude of risks.

Although the world economy has proved to be durable over the past year, defying predictions of a recession, there are lingering concerns that price pressures have not been sufficiently contained and that new trade barriers will be erected amid anxiety over a recent surge of cheap Chinese exports.

“Somewhat worryingly, progress toward inflation targets has somewhat stalled since the beginning of the year,” Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the I.M.F.’s chief economist, wrote in an essay that accompanied the report. “Oil prices have been rising recently in part due to geopolitical tensions and services inflation remains stubbornly high.”

He added: “Further trade restrictions on Chinese exports could also push up goods inflation.”

The gathering is taking place at a time of growing tension between the United States and China over a surge of Chinese green energy products, such as electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar panels, that are flooding global markets. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen returned last week from a trip to China, where she told her counterparts that Beijing’s industrial policy was harming American workers. She warned that the United States could pursue trade restrictions to protect investments in America’s solar and electric vehicle industries.

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