Free trade, anti-protectionist language dropped from final communique

Posted March 19, 2017

Breaking a decade-long tradition of endorsing open trade, Group of 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.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday shrugged off an outcry over the omission of a long-standing anti-protectionist pledge from a G20 finance ministers' statement, saying language used in the past is "irrelevant".

Mr Trump is aggressively pursuing his "America First" policy, which includes penalties for companies which manufacture their products overseas.

By comparison, last year's meeting called on them to resist "all forms" of protectionism, which can include border tariffs and rules that favour a country's businesses over those in another economy.

Trump, whose tough protectionist talk helped win him the presidency, has withdrawn the United States from a trans-Pacific free trade pact and attacked export giants China and Germany.

"Of course we have different points of view". In a reversal of roles, Beijing has been defending free trade and urging Washington to refrain from protectionist measures.

No mention of the worldwide agreement on climate change backed in previous meetings.

The meeting's host, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, told reporters that "no one has mentioned protectionism" and that the statement was about "the right formulation regarding the openness of the world economy".

To add to the woes, China is reportedly enhancing economic retaliation against the deployment of an advanced United States anti-missile system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense on the Korean Peninsula. Mnuchin said he'd had 18 bilaterals and meetings on the sidelines. "I don't remember such hard talks on such an important issue in G20 history", a veteran of the meetings said.

Trump's recognition that man-made climate change is a political maneuver is mentioned by Zero-Hedge, but I disagree with the idea that the hoax was "concocted by China" to hurt USA industry.

"The US says that on this issue, the position hasn't been clearly defined in Washington and they need time", added the source.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond arrive for the family photo at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany, on Friday.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin expressed "regret that our discussions today were unable to reach a satisfying conclusion on two absolutely essential priorities", trade and climate.