April 17, 2018 / 1:52 PM / a year ago

IMF chief economist says there is still time to avoid trade war

FILE PHOTO: Maurice Obstfeld, Economic Counsellor and Director, Research Department of IMF delivers the International Monetary Fund's media briefing on the world economic outlook during its annual meeting in Lima, Peru, October 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - International Monetary Fund chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said there was still time for the United States and China to avoid a trade war through multilateral negotiations.

Speaking to a news conference before the start of IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, Obstfeld said that it was too soon to declare that a trade war was underway as tariffs have not yet been activated.

“At this point, although some warning shots have been fired, it’s more of a phony war,” he said.

“There’s still room for countries, I think, to engage in a more multilateral set of discussions to take advantage of the set of dispute resolution mechanisms in place to avoid any intensification,” Obstfeld added.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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