US Treasury's Mnuchin considering trip to China for trade talks

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. AFP

Mnuchin said he met China's new central bank governor, Yi Gang, during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings and discussed the potential for China to open its markets to more foreign competition.

The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday that trade tensions between the USA and China and some other countries could erode the confidence that is vital for global growth. "While we have turned the corner after a decade of crisis, we agree that there are some dark clouds on the horizon, and we need collectively and individually to focus on deeper economic reforms to ensure higher, sustainable and inclusive growth", he told reporters.

The IMF projects global growth of 3.9 percent this year and next but warns that the risks are tilted to the downside.

The US-China trade issue would be discussed at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring meetings in Washington, DC, this week.

"The intensifying challenges to multilateralism call for unequivocal and forceful voice of the IMF and the WTO (World Trade Organisation) in favour of rule-based global trading system and against protectionism", he added. "So there is room to do more on trade reform", he said. "So that is a genuine concern over the next few years over the stability of the global economy". "Finance ministers (from around the world) are gathering together".

The US has rattled financial markets with a series of provocative moves in recent weeks. "Equally, I think when you look at China's policy stands - also what the Europeans might do if there are any measures targeting China, I think we can expect to see retaliation, and that's where the trade war scenario really begins to potentially become a real one".

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But German central bank chief Jens Weidmann said the G20 officials all agreed trade must benefit all countries.

The US and China have proposed imposing tariffs of $50 billion on each others' products and Trump is looking to impose tariffs on up to $100 billion more of Chinese goods.

In his speech to the IMF's policy committee Saturday, Yi Gang, the head of China's central bank, said that global growth could be hurt by "an escalation of trade frictions caused by unilateral actions", an obvious reference to America's threatened tariffs against China. Moscow is seeking "clarification" on USA sanctions, Mnuchin said, without elaborating.

"I did meet with the Chinese here. They will discuss this issue", she said.

"A strong quota-based permanent resource base for the IMF would serve to strengthen the Global Financial Safety Net (GFSN) and mitigate risks to the worldwide monetary system", Jaitley said, as per the speech released by the Finance Ministry.

"The Chinese side has received information that the U.S. side hopes to come to Beijing to discuss economic and trade issues. China welcomes this", the China Commerce Ministry said in a statement on its website, confirming it had received information about Mnuchin's potential visit.

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