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Warnings as G20 financial leaders drop free-trade pledge

20 March 2017, 02:04 | Taylor George

Warnings as G20 financial leaders drop free-trade pledge

Caption President of the German Central Bank Jens Weidmann center talks to US' Federal Reserve Board President Janet Yellen left and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the G20 finance ministers meeting in Baden-Baden southern Germany

Top finance and banking officials for the world's 20 most powerful economies flouted the longstanding tradition of including explicit support for free trade in their joint statement Saturday, offering only a vague platitude about maximizing the benefits of trade for global society.

"This is my first G20, so what was in the past communiqué is not necessarily relevant from my standpoint", USA treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the German resort town of Baden Baden.

The development led to warnings over the weekend on the outlook for trade, a key issue for host nation Germany and for other countries which rely significantly on exports, including Ireland.

But trade deals that now exist are not always balanced, he said, warning that Washington will not hesitate to renegotiate them. It dropped a reference to climate change, in the face of resistance from countries including the U.S., China, India and Saudi Arabia. In a recent meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump stated that the United States has been treated "very very unfairly" in trade agreements.

"We will consult closely on exchange markets", they said.

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July meeting Seeking to put "America first", Mr 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 U.S. workers.

"We are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies". "Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements.to the extent that agreements are old agreements and need to be renegotiated, we'll consider that as well". Germanwatch global climate policy chief Lutz Weischer, in regard to the climate strategy for the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, said that "from the meeting of G20 government heads, a clear signal has to be sent that the Paris Agreement will be implemented rapidly and ambitiously, even if only partly in some USA states". He said that the statement needed to reflect the discussion at the current summit.

"It is not that we were not united", German finance minister Wolfgang said.

Instead, the USA blocked any attempts to broker a commitment to open trade and an impasse was reached in terms of tackling protectionism. "But it is not very clear what [protectionism] means to each [minister]".

"The US under Donald Trump is impeding climate protection, unleashing the financial markets and engaging in national protectionism", said German Greens leader Anton Hofreiter.



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