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

G20 finance chiefs fail to renew anti-protectionist pledge after U.S. opposition

G20 finance chiefs fail to renew anti-protectionist pledge after U.S. opposition

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin represented the U.S.at the meeting and declined to include language in the group's joint statement that stressed the importance of free trade and that trade should be conducted in a "rules based" manner.

The statement dropped language from previous G-20 statements that said countries should resist "all forms" of trade barriers.

The outcome marked a win for Trump, whose "America First" agenda and anti-globalization rhetoric has spooked allies.

However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble struck a conciliatory tone, noting that in the United States the matters of finance and trade were divided in two portfolios.

"At some meetings you can not reach all that you want to achieve".

In two days of meetings in Baden-Baden, delegates were split under the pressure of the new USA rhetoric on the balance of global trade, with most favouring a multilateral, rules-based system as now embodied in the World Trade Organisation.

Indeed, the USA delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stood its ground against enormous pressure from other G20 states.

"Furthermore, we encourage all G20 countries which have not yet done so, to initiate as soon as feasible a peer review of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption".

In a surprise to many, finance ministers also dropped any reference to climate change funding in their official statement, reflecting President Trump's commitment to deregulate the fossil fuels industry.

"But that is something we can live with", Schäuble said.

The issue of trade helped sweep Trump to victory a year ago. Their stance on issues such as free trade and climate change have major implications on the global economy.

G-20 officials said the United States was ready to accept a phrase backing "free and fair" trade, given that the meaning of "fair" was open to interpretation.

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

Finance ministers from the 20 leading world powers concluded talks without agreeing on a common position that would have renewed their long-standing pledge for free trade.

Trump is expected to attend the Hamburg summit, which is to be chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"The German G20 presidency is not over yet".

BADEN-BADEN, Germany-World finance chiefs clashed Friday over the future of global trade, anxious that protectionist tendencies could tilt the global economy back into the doldrums and stir up cross-border tensions.

The G20 is a informal forum on economic cooperation between 19 countries plus the European Union. Trump's pledge to brand China as a currency manipulator has sparked worries of a trade war.

It marks perhaps the Trump administration's biggest clash yet with the worldwide community.

"What we are focused on in our nation is trade deficits", said Mnuchin.

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