G20 finance ministers meet as America First casts pall

Tammy Harvey
March 18, 2017

He said moving all those functions overseas would cause huge upheaval and he wants to negotiate a Brexit deal that keeps London strong: "I am not sure whether it would be very beloved in Paris to say so, but we have our own interest, even after Brexit, to have a strong financial centre in London".

Meeting in the German resort town of Baden-Baden, G20 finance chiefs will agree to fight attacks regardless of their origin and promise cross-border cooperation to maintain financial stability, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

But when asked whether the G20 should explicitly reaffirm its past vow to resist protectionism, Mnuchin repeated his view that some USA trade relationships need to be re-examined to make them fairer and more reciprocal, Reuters reports. The finance ministers are set to meet in Baden-Baden, Germany, on March 17-18.

Germany's Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries ratcheted up the tone, warning that Berlin could take Washington to an worldwide trade court if it insists on imposing punitive tariffs on German goods.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived at the White House for her first visit with Trump around the same time the ministers were sitting down in Germany, amid expectations she will make a strong push for open markets.

Those caught in the crosshairs include German luxury carmaker BMW, against which Trump has threatened punitive taxes of 35 per cent if it does not back down on building a factory in Mexico.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is headed Friday to his first G-20 meeting of the world's top financial leaders in Germany with a message that the new administration of President Donald Trump won't tolerate any countries that try to devalue their currencies to gain an unfair trade advantage.

"We agreed that it was important to maintain the G7 and G20 agreements on currency policy", Aso said.

"It is not our desire to get into trade wars", Mnuchin said.

Schaeuble told public broadcaster SWR today morning that Mnuchin had told him explicitly that "of course the Americans are for free trade and also for us setting that out in Baden-Baden".

Schaeuble also said G20 finance leaders were not overly concerned that hard-fought financial market regulation would be rolled back.

Amid the growing alarm, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged the G20 to "collectively avoid self-inflicted injuries".

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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