WASHINGTON (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned on Saturday against increasing protectionism and urged countries to work together more closely as he visited the United States for meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.


Schaeuble did not specifically name the United States but the U.S. administration has advocated a more protectionist approach under Trump's presidency, threatening to renegotiate or pull out of trade deals.


"We should all be worried about the weak growth of global trade and the increasing anti-free trade rhetoric," Schaeuble said according to the text of a speech he was due to give in Washington to the steering committee of the International Monetary Fund.


"We need more openness rather than less," he said, adding that protectionism damaged growth and urging countries to work together so more people can benefit from the advantages of trade.


Schaeuble said trade had helped millions of people get out of poverty and had ensured more stability and prosperity in many countries around the world.

He also said it was not clear when the next economic or financial crisis would happen so countries should prepare.

On monetary policy, he said: "Now is not the time for stimulating demand globally" and added that it would be better to implement structural reforms and solid fiscal policy to make the economy more resilient.

Schaeuble is due to become president of the lower house of the German parliament and step down as finance minister, freeing the post potentially for someone from another party - most likely the liberal Free Democrats (EDP).

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, of which Schaeuble is a member, are due to start coalition talks with the FDP and Greens next week.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Richard Balmforth)