The IMF expects the US economy to grow 2.3 per cent, up from 1.6 per cent in 2016; the 19-country eurozone to expand 1.7 per cent, the same as past year; Japan to grow 1.2 per cent, up from 1 per cent; and China to expand 6.6 per cent, down from 6.7 per cent in 2016.
However, Obstfeld noted, a number of countries will continue to struggle as a result of low commodity prices, extreme weather or unrest.
"The world economy may be gaining momentum, but we can not be sure that we are out of the woods", said Mr. Obstfeld.
SA's economy grew at 0.3% in 2016 was higher than the IMF's 0.1% forecast. Also forecast to contract is Kuwait - by 0.2 per cent, compared with a previous forecast of 2.6 per cent growth.
Its UK growth forecast was significantly boosted from 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent this year, slowing to 1.5 percent in 2018.
The IMF upgraded its estimate for China's 2017 growth to 6.6 percent from 6.5 percent, which it made in January. They include "the threat of deepening geopolitical tensions", the possibility that rising US interest rates will squeeze economic growth and rattle financial markets and the threat that protectionist measures will damage global trade.
That puts Britain among the fastest growing advanced economies this year, trailing closely behind the USA and Spain, which are expected to grow 2.3% and 2.6%, respectively.
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Beijing should "focus on containing the problems at their source by accepting slower and more sustainable growth outcomes. and cutting off-budget public sector investment while increasing on-budget allocations for social assistance, health expenditure, unemployment benefits and restructuring funds", the IMF report said.
Obstfeld said whether the current momentum will be sustained remains a question mark, but said there are clearly upside possibilities.
Rich economies are the main source of inward-looking, anti-globalisation sentiment, with the potential of gains for such political ideas still very much open in countries such as France.
The threat of protectionism is the most worrying, but others include as-yet undetermined United States policies and their impact on the global economy, especially the possibility for a rising deficit and tearing down of financial regulations erected in the wake of the 2008 global crisis. Qatar will post 3.4 per cent growth in 2017 and 2.8 per cent in 2018.
"Though highly uncertain, medium-term growth prospects have also diminished in the aftermath of the Brexit vote because of the expected increase in barriers to trade and migration, as well as a potential downsizing of the financial services sector amid possible barriers to cross-border financial activity", the International Monetary Fund added.
Threats to global trade and integration, however, were given the most emphasis by Obstfeld.
Protection threats to growth in Europe were also highlighted by International Monetary Fund economists, just days ahead of the first round of the French presidential election.