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29 March 2017, 01:42 | Ignacio Smith
At Mnuchin's First Big Meeting, G20 Shies From Endorsing Free Trade
With the sun shining in the German spa town of Baden-Baden, the first annual meeting of the G20 got under way with a reassurance from the US Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin that the White House was not interested in instigating worldwide trade wars. Mnuchin told a news conference in Baden Baden after his 1st meeting with the finance chiefs of the world's 20 biggest economies.
"Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements", Sec.
European countries and others that depend on exports, such as China, were said to be pushing for a stronger statement in favor of trade with fewer tariffs and other barriers in a rule-based system.
"What is relevant is what we agreed as a group: to strengthen the contributions of trade to our economies", he said.
Trump has already pulled the US out of a proposed free trade deal with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.
The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said the token reference to trade was a serious setback for the multilateral trade order.
The world's top economic powers have dropped a pledge to fully oppose trade protectionism amid pushback from the USA government of President Donald Trump, who wants to favor American companies and workers more.Finance ministers at a Group of 20 meeting in Germany issued a statement Saturday that said only that countries "are working to strengthen the contribution of trade" to their economies.
The threat of new protectionist policies and border taxes from the White House have created headaches for countries that rely on America for trade. But attempts to include such language did not find agreement. Proponents say technological advances, such as automation that replaces workers with robots, are more to blame for the loss of jobs in such sectors.
In the new US administration's biggest clash yet with the worldwide community, G-20 finance chiefs rowed back on a pledge to reject protectionism and maintain an open and inclusive global trade system.
He cited the fight against climate change and trade, saying France was convinced of the need for "regulated free trade" that was profitable for everybody. But they argue that trade restrictions will not help those left behind by the globalized economy and point to better training and education as part of the answer. He also has started the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. This more casual meeting of finance ministers will be followed by a formal gathering of national leaders in Hamburg, Germany, in July.
Conspicuous by its absence was the phrase "we will resist all forms of protectionism" that was contained in the communique from the last meeting of the group in China in July 2016.
The G20 meeting of world finance ministers has failed to agree a common position on world trade and climate change. Without mentioning a country by name, he said, "Maybe one or the other important member state needs to get a sense of how worldwide cooperation works".
Its decisions do not have the same force as an global treaty and depend on individual countries' promises to follow through on them.
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