G20 sees need for 'dialogue,' fails to defuse trade war threat

22 March, 2018, 01:38 | Author: Darnell Patrick
  • Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jaddan will participate in the first G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors Meeting in Buenos Aires. — Courtesy

The Buenos Aires meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world's 20 biggest economies was meant to discuss a brightening economic outlook, the future of work, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and corporate tax avoidance.

"We need to be prepared to act in the USA interest, again, to defend free and fair, reciprocal trade", he said in a press conference after the talks, adding that there was always a risk that others would reciprocate.

"Strong fundamentals, sound policies and a resilient worldwide monetary system are essential to the stability of exchange rates, contributing to strong and sustainable growth and investment", the draft communique said.

It also said G20 finance ministers stood by an agreement reached by their leaders in July a year ago in Hamburg.

G20 officials fretted about the dangers that a potential trade war posed to world economic growth.

The Hamburg agreement, signed by all G20 leaders including Trump, said G20 countries would fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices, although it also said they recognise the role of "legitimate trade defence instruments".

"I told the G20 we need to send a joint message on this point, and our view was taken into account in the communique", Japan's vice finance minister Minoru Kihara told a briefing on Tuesday after attending the G20 finance leaders' gathering. Yet the USA can also argue its tariffs are a "legitimate trade defence instrument". Protectionism could damage growth, he added.

Many U.S. allies, including the European Union, have sought the same exemptions that Trump has granted to North American neighbors Canada and Mexico, with some G20 ministers raising the issue with Mnuchin.

"It is of the utmost importance to avoid any unilateral choice that might jeopardize our growth".

Mnuchin said he has had very direct conversations with his counterparts in China and that he looks forward to working with Liu He, China's newly-installed, Harvard-educated vice premier in charge of financial and industrial policy, on getting better access to the Chinese market.

The meeting was expected to call for stricter monitoring of cryptocurrencies, the decentralized and anonymous nature of which can turn them into "a potentially major new vehicle for money-laundering and financing of terrorism", according to the International Monetary Fund.

But they also noted that such assets raise issues related to consumer and investor protection, market integrity, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing.



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