The world's major economies are united in their belief that free trade delivers healthy economic growth

Germany's Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble, joined by German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, left, and Friederike von Tiesenhausen, spokesperson for Schäuble and Head of the Media Division, speaks during the G20 news conference at the 2017 World Bank Group Spring Meetings in Washington, Friday, April 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

- Associated Press
Friday, April 21st 2017, 19:21 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on global finance meetings (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

The world's major economies are united in their belief that free trade delivers healthy economic growth. But they also agree that more needs to be done for those left behind.

The German finance minister says if more isn't done "we will see more protectionism and countries retreating from globalization." The minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, spoke with reporters after a meeting Friday of the finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20, which represents the world's major economic powers. Germany is chairing the group this year.

Schaeuble dodged questions about whether other countries are concerned about the America First trade rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump. A day earlier, Trump had announced plans to look into imposing tariffs on steel imports.

Instead, Schaeuble stressed widespread agreement on the benefits of free trade.


1 p.m.

The No. 2 official at the Federal Reserve says he agrees with the assessment of the International Monetary Fund that the global economy's prospects are looking up.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in a CNBC interview that part of the optimism stems from China's economy doing better. Also, worst fears about what could happen in Europe after Britain voted to leave the European Union last summer did not materialize.

While the U.S. economy will likely be slow in the January-March period, Fischer said things should rebound in coming months. As far as future Fed rate increases, Fischer said that so far he hasn't seen anything to change the expectations of two more rate hikes this year. The Fed last raised rates in March.

Fischer, who was formerly a top official at the IMF, was interviewed on the sidelines of the finance meetings on Friday.


11:50 a.m.

Anti-poverty activists are complaining that the World Bank needs to expand its definition of poverty so that more needy people around the world can be helped.

They've come to the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to protest. Countries need an annual income of $1,026 per person to be middle-income in the World Bank's eyes. That's less than $3 a day. Anti-poverty groups want the threshold raised to $10 a day.

Terri Ford of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation says that 75 percent of the world's poor and the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS reside in countries which the World Bank currently classifies as some bracket of middle-income.

Activists say these countries can be denied aid when not put in the low-income category.


3 a.m.

World finance leaders say they will seek to build support for free trade by finding ways to help those left behind by globalization.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says he is "very much aware" that people who haven't benefited from globalization are angry about it.

Kim is among the world leaders in finance gathering in Washington for three days of meetings. The 189 countries represented are members of the International Monetary Fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank.

The IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, notes that the global economy is expanding at a healthier clip but says global growth must be more inclusive.

As an example, she suggests offering the unemployed training and financial help to move closer to jobs.


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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