International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attends IMFC press conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, U.S.,
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Reuters

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde has called on the US and China to resolve trade tensions through rules-based multilateral institutions.

On Saturday, Lagarde said both countries should work on the basis of the free trade and within the framework of the rules-based multilateral institutions, Xinhua news agency reported.

"It is important that as a global community, we keep trade open and ensure that we work within the multilateral system. We have to make sure that if there are disputes, those disputes are resolved," said International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) Chairman and Governor of the South African Reserve Bank Lesetja Kganyago.

Lagarde's advice came as the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he was considering a trip to Beijing to discuss trade issues with his Chinese counterparts.

"I am not going to make any comment on the timing, nor do I have anything confirmed, but a trip is under consideration," Mnuchin told reporters.

The Donald Trump administration in the US has recently threatened to impose tariffs up to $150 billion of Chinese imports, while China has vowed to retaliate against US exports if the Trump administration moves forward with the tariffs.

Unilateralism and trade protectionism will inevitably harm others without benefiting oneself as the global economy is deeply integrated, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday.

Citing a report from the Brookings Institution, Hua said a US-China trade war would result in a loss of more than 2.1 million jobs in 2,700 US counties.