ibusinesslines.com March 24, 2017

Decade-old trade pledge dropped at G20 meeting

20 March 2017, 05:55 | Kelvin Horton

G20 probably won't include any mention of trade in communique

Half the Cherry Blossoms Survived Freeze

On the G20's official website, the group representing the world's leading economies claims it "regularly issues clear statements opposing protectionism and supporting fair terms of competition".

The U.S., represented by Steven Mnuchin in his first appearance at an worldwide 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.

Finance ministers from the world's leading economies had gone into this weekend's G20 meeting in the spa town of Baden-Baden eager to ease their most powerful member closer to the centre ground.

G-20 finance ministers also excised a commitment to finance the fight against climate change from their statement.

"I regret that our discussions today were unable to reach a satisfying conclusion on two absolutely essential priorities that our world and which France would have liked to see the G-20 continue to take firm and concerted action on", said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

"We underscore the role of open trade policies and a strong and secure global trading system in promoting inclusive global economic growth, and we will make further efforts to revitalize global trade and lift investment".

"It's completely clear we are not for protectionism". The question now is, if Mr Mnuchin could not be persuaded to adopt a more conciliatory tone on trade, then what chance do they have with his boss Donald Trump?

"We believe in free trade", he said, adding however that "balanced trade needs to be what's good for us and what's good for other people, a win-win situation". French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the USA was at odds with 19 other nations. The finance ministers' meeting will pave the way for a July 7-8 summit of national leaders in Hamburg, Germany.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, taking part in his first worldwide meeting since being sworn in, expressed optimism despite the disagreement over wording.

One day earlier, Trump, standing beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, complained about worldwide trade agreements and said that the USA has gotten the short end of the stick in the past. "This isn't a caricature, this is the reality of things", he said. "The alternative for them would be to negotiate directly with Trump and that would be worse". U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to downplay the wording issue.

Stocks were also lower as the US dollar continued its slide that began after the US Federal Reserve last week defied expectations and kept its interest rate outlook for the rest of the year unchanged after an increase in its benchmark.

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