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

G20 financial chiefs agree open trade is key to growth-Schaeuble

G20 financial chiefs agree open trade is key to growth-Schaeuble

But the new U.S president, who has promised to put "America First", has made no secret of his disdain for multilateral trade deals that he says have treated America unfairly. That wording stops short of rejecting protectionism, as the group has done in the past. The organization is one of several global groups invited to participate in the meeting.

By comparison, last year's meeting called on them to resist "all forms" of protectionism, which can include border tariffs and rules that keep out imports to shield domestic companies from competition.

"Our heads of states are meeting in a few weeks".

Mnuchin and Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie and central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting in Baden-Baden, one of the G-20 officials said.

European countries and China are said to be pushing for a stronger stance in favor of free trade and cooperative, multi-country frameworks for trade such as the World Trade Organization.

"We talked for a few hours in a very open and trustful way but that doesn't mean that after such a first talk we can already solve all the problems in the world". "We are for free, regulated worldwide trade, with rules respected by everyone". "It's completely clear we are not for protectionism", Wolfgang Schaeuble, finance minister of host country Germany, told reporters, though he did, without mentioning a country by name, say that "maybe one or the other important member state needs to get a sense of how global cooperation works". Again, U.S. representatives presented a perspective consistent with President Trump's own recent comments and actions.

The group's final statement Saturday said that countries "are working to strengthen the contribution of trade" to their economies.

The U.S., represented by Steven Mnuchin in his first appearance at an global forum as Treasury Secretary, argued that trade arrangements need to be made fairer, in line with the administration's claims the U.S. has had a bad deal from the current setup. "Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been demanding the language be watered down, with the deadlock after two days of talks now coming down to a few words, G20 sources said. Germany´s Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries ratcheted up the tone, warning that Berlin could take Washington to an worldwide trade court if it insists on imposing punitive tariffs on German goods.

Trump, whose tough protectionist talk helped win him the presidency, has withdrawn the U.S. from a trans-Pacific free trade pact and attacked export giants China and Germany.

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