Financial leaders of the
world’s biggest economies
dropped a pledge to keep
global trade free and open,
acquiescing to an increasingly
protectionist US after a twoday
meeting failed to yield a
compromise.
Breaking a decade-long
tradition of endorsing
open trade, G-20 finance
ministers and central
bankers made only a token
reference to trade in their
communique on Saturday, a
clear defeat for host nation
Germany, which fought
the new US government’s
attempts to water down past
commitments.
In the new US
administration’s biggest clash
yet with the international
community, G-20 finance
chiefs also removed from
their statement a pledge
to finance the fight against
climate change, an anticipated
outcome after US President
Donald Trump called global
warming a “hoax.”
In a meeting that some said
was at times 19 against one,
the US did not yield on key
issues, essentially torpedoing
earlier agreements, as the G-20
requires a consensus. Still, the
dialogue was friendly and
non-confrontational, leaving
the door open to a future deal,
officials who attended the
meeting said.
“This is my first G-20,
so what was in the pastcommuniqué is not necessarily
relevant from my standpoint,”
US Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin said.
“I understand what the
president’s desire is and his
policies, and I negotiated them
from here,” Mnuchin said. “I
could not be happier with the
outcome.”
Seeking to put “America
First,” Trump has already
pulled out of a key trade
agreement and proposed a new
tax on imports, arguing that
certain trade relationships need
to be reworked to make them
fairer for US workers.
“We believe in free trade, we
are in one of the largest markets
in the world, we are one of the
largest trading partners in the
world, trade has been good
for us, it has been good for
other people,” Mnuchin said.
“Having said that, we want to
re-examine certain agreements.”
International trade makes up
almost half of global economic
output and officials said the
issue could be revisited at a
meeting of G-20 leaders in July.While some expressed
frustration, like French Finance
Minister Michel Sapin, others
played down the dispute.
“It is not that we were
not united,” German
Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble said. “It was
totally undisputed that we
are against protectionism.
But it is not very clear what
(protectionism) means to
each (minister).”
He added that some
ministers did not have a full
mandate to negotiate since
they were not fully in charge
of trade issues.
Others suggested that the
G-20 leaders’ meeting in
Hamburg this July could be
the real opportunity to bring
the US on board.
“It is not the best meeting
we had, but we avoided
backtracking,” EU Economic
Affairs Commissioner Pierre
Moscovici said. “I hope in
Hamburg the wording will
be different. We need it. It
is the raison d’etre for the
G20,” Moscovici said.
The communique also
dropped a reference, used
by the G-20 last year, on
the readiness to finance
measures against climate
change as agreed in Paris in
2015.
Trump has suggested
global warming was a
“hoax” concocted by China
to hurt US industry and
vowed to scrap the Paris
climate accord aimed at
curbing greenhouse gas
emissions.
Leaders also upheld their
commitments to financial
sector regulation, supporting
the finalization of bank rules
known as Basel III, provided
they do not significantly raise
overall capital requirements

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