The benefits of trade must be shared more widely, or a rising tide of protectionism will hurt the global economy, according to the heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says trade brought "tremendous" benefits that have lifted millions of people out of poverty; but, she told journalists in Washington Thursday that too many people feel they have been left behind at a time of weak global economic growth and rising political frustration. She urged action on policies that "work for all."
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says inequality is "far too high," which "constrains growth" and sparks "instability."
The comments come as top national economic officials from around the world gather in Washington, seeking ways to boost growth, manage inflation and encourage trade.
Recently, worries about trade and globalization prompted British voters to push their nation out of the European Union. Trade concerns are also a key issue in the U.S. presidential election, with Republican candidate Donald Trump vowing drastic changes in trade deals if he wins.
Kim says instead of raising barriers to trade, it would be wiser to invest in "human beings" helping people with outdated skills learn what they need to find jobs in a fast-evolving new economy. He says the poorest nations will get the biggest return on this kind of investment.
Lagarde says the changing nature of work is driven not just by trade but by advancing technology, 3D printing and other digital impacts. She says more and better education are needed to help people displaced by economic changes.