Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

Absence of anti-protectionism in G-20 statement adds risk to Korea

Absence of anti-protectionism in G-20 statement adds risk to Korea

Finance ministers from the 20 leading world powers (G20) concluded talks in the German city of Baden-Baden Saturday without a agreeing on a joint position that explicitly renews their long-standing pledge to free trade.

The finance ministers' meeting will pave the way for a summit of national leaders in Hamburg, Germany, in first week of July this year.

The group set aside a previous pledge to avoid "all forms of protectionism" and signed up to an inoffensive statement about working "to strengthen the contribution of trade" instead.

In the new USA 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.

Mnuchin said trade deals need to offer a "win-win situation".

"The U.S. has been treated very unfairly over the years and that's going to stop", he said at a news conference. "But that is something we can live with", said Schaeuble, who was also the host of the talks in Baden-Baden.

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.

"Of course we have different points of view".

"The lack of a rejection of protectionism is a clear breach of tradition".

Financial officials from the world's biggest economies have dropped from a joint statement any mention of financing action on climate change, reportedly following pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Both China and Germany have found themselves in the crosshairs of USA criticism over their massive trade surpluses.

As well as the free trade agreement falling apart, the deal to prevent climate change was also undermined. That could include job training and education, since the International Monetary Fund says trade and globalization have benefited higher-skilled workers.

Despite German efforts to find a compromise, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said leaders had reached an impasse. "We have a means to address that", Mnuchin said, referring to White House advisors' belief that Chinese and German goods are priced too low in the U.S. because their currencies are too weak against the dollar. "I couldn't be happier with the outcome", he said, according to Reuters.

The G-20 is an informal forum on economic cooperation made up of 19 countries with more than 80 percent of the world economy, plus the European Union.

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