Thursday 23rd March, 2017
Translate Language:::
Share

G20 finance ministers drop anti-protectionist pledge

G20 finance ministers drop anti-protectionist pledge

Finance ministers from the world’s biggest economies have dropped an anti-pro­tectionist commitment after op­position from the US.
 
G20 ministers left the two-day meeting without renewing their long-standing pledge to bolster free trade.
 
Last year, the group of the world’s 20 largest economies vowed to “resist all forms of pro­tectionism”.
 
But since then, President Don­ald Trump has taken office, and is aggressively pursuing an “Ameri­ca First” policy.
 
His policies include penalties for companies which manufac­ture their products abroad.
 
Speaking after the meeting ended, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he would not read too much into his country’s desire to change the language be­hind the communique, as “what was as in the past” releases was “not relevant”.
 
Mr. Mnuchin added he had been “very clear that we do be­lieve in free trade but we believe in balanced trade”.
 
The communique, which was published at the end of the meet­ing in Baden-Baden with the agreement of all attending dele­gates, also failed to include a vow on climate change.
 
Mr. Trump has already prom­ised to slash environmental fund­ing.
 
The exclusion of the two issues in the communique was disap­pointing, French Finance Minis­ter Michel Sapin said.
 
“I regret that our discussions today were unable to reach a sat­isfying conclusion on two abso­lutely essential priorities that our world and which France would have liked to see the G20 contin­ue to take firm and concerted ac­tion on.”
 
However, it did include pledg­es on a determination to fight tax avoidance, clamp down on ter­rorist financing and strengthen private investment in Africa.
 
But two days later, the commu­nique approved by all the assem­bled finance ministers was pub­lished without a commitment to bolster free trade and dropped a pledge to “resist all forms of pro­tectionism” from the previous year’s document.
 
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said the meet­ing had reached an impasse when it came to the issue, and added that his counterparts could not “force partners” - read the Unit­ed States - “to go along with word­ing with which they don’t agree”.
 
Mr. Schauble insisted that there had been “a lot of good­will” at the meeting, but whether that goodwill extends to the fu­ture trade relationship with the world’s largest economy is now very much in doubt.

SHARE ON: