Finance

G-20 summit ends without consensus on trade, climate

The annual meeting of G20 finance ministers ended Saturday in Germany without a concrete agreement on free trade after the USA blocked any language that encouraged past commitments on the open flow of goods and services.

"We both agreed on the importance of maintaining a series of past pledges (over currencies) by the G-7 and G-20 countries", Aso told reporters after his first meeting with Mnuchin on the sidelines of the meeting.

"Our objective is getting more balanced trade agreements", he said, confirming that having border adjusted taxes is an option.

BADEN-BADEN, Germany-World finance chiefs clashed Friday over the future of global trade, anxious that protectionist tendencies could tilt the global economy back into the doldrums and stir up cross-border tensions.

Trump himself insisted at a tense Washington press conference Friday following his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "I'm a free trader but also a fair trader".

They see that formulation as a way to hem in the economic nationalism advocated by President Donald Trump's "America First" platform.

Finance ministers at the Group of 20 meeting issued a statement that was milder than their last one from 2016.

But talks have so far failed to produce a breakthrough for consensus on the issue, and the clock is ticking down to the close of the two-day session when a final statement is due to be published.

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Mnuchin has said trade needs to be "fair", which would be a step back from the group's previous blanket condemnation of trade barriers. "But it is not very clear what (protectionism) means to each (minister)".

The Trump administration has regularly targeted China's yuan policy, accusing the country of keeping its exchange rate artificially low and driving a $350 billion (€326 billion) annual surplus with the US.

Sources close to the talks say the ministers were presented on Saturday with a compromise text that attempts to strike a balance between the position of the U.S. and other powers.

As well as the free trade agreement falling apart, the deal to prevent climate change was also undermined.

Slow growth and halting economic reform could be blamed for "a backlash against globalisation", OECD head Angel Gurria said in Baden-Baden as he presented a report urging nations to spread the proceeds of growth more widely.

References to action against climate change under the Paris accord were also scrapped from the G20 statement unlike at a previous summit past year.

"I regret that our discussions today were not able to reach a satisfactory conclusion on two priorities that are absolutely essential in today's world", French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

A source close to the talks said United States negotiators appear to be unable to commit due to an absence of mandate from Washington.



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