Monday, 20 November, 2017

US Treasury Secretary Moves G20 Away From Avoiding Protectionism

G20 probably won't include any mention of trade in communique G-20 leaders withdraw anti-protectionist vow after Trump administration opposes free trade statement
Mae Harvey | 21 March, 2017, 00:27

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shrugged off the outcry, saying the "historical language" was not relevant.

Financial leaders from the world's top economies dropped an anti-protectionist pledge after opposition from the Trump administration.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said in a news conference that "there wasn't a G-20 disagreement, there was disagreement within the G-20 between a country and all the others". The development led to warnings over the weekend on the outlook for trade, a key issue for host nation Germany, which fought the new U.S. government's attempts to water down past commitments.

Mnuchin said the administration would be looking at relationships where the USA was buying more than it could sell to its partner and would be more aggressive in seeking the enforcement of existing rules that would benefit US workers through the Geneva-based World Trade Organization.

Options under consideration range from more aggressive anti-dumping enforcement efforts to renegotiating trade deals and enacting a proposed border tax levied on imports.

Some advocates, such as the International Monetary Fund, readily concede that the benefits of free trade have been uneven across societies, as less-skilled workers lose out and the better-trained prosper.

In addition to the G20 GwA, the G20 Ministers and governors had gathered to discuss the global economic outlook; the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth; worldwide financial architecture; financial sector development and regulation; worldwide tax; and other global governance topics.

"I think Mnuchin is an articulate, constructive and pragmatic man", Moscovici said.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the finance minister of host country Germany, argued that it was not true that officials failed to find common ground. "It is not a total surprise".

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The ministers and Central Bank governors reiterated that excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates could have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. "Consensus was reached on addressing and reducing excessive global imbalances while promoting greater inclusiveness and reducing inequality in pursuit of economic growth", Treasury highlighted.

The communique issued after the just-concluded G-20 summit has bucked a decade-old tradition of pledging to resist protectionism.

"We are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".

It is the first meeting between Xiao and Mnuchin.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 66 cents to $48.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, lost 53 cents to trade $51.23 in London. He said that the statement needed to reflect the discussion at the current summit.

For Washington, the watered-down language that emerged in their communiqué ensures the US can still use sanctions or other policy tools to punish trade partners and thwart economic policies the Trump administration believes to be unfair.

But the Baden Baden meeting established Mnuchin as a pragmatic operator in the Trump administration's drive for a more level playing field on trade, said Domenico Lombardi, another former IMF official now with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think-tank.

Across Europe, populist movements are threatening the establishment and the established way of doing things. "The alternative for them would be to negotiate directly with Trump and that would be worse".

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