Trade Cases

G20 Officials Stress Importance of Free Trade

Written by Sandy Williams

Cryptocurrency policy took a backseat to global trade at the start of the 2018 G20 Summit. Officials gathered in Buenos Aires warned that U.S. protectionist policies may threaten global economic growth.

“The first risk is the risk of inward looking policies and protectionism,” said European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Monday.

G-20 members are concerned that Trump’s global tariffs on aluminum and steel, and expected new tariffs on Chinese technology and consumer goods, are leading to trade war.

“There is a solid understanding among the global community that free trade is important,” Haruhiko Kuroda, Japan’s central bank governor, told reporters.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pushed back saying he could not sacrifice U.S. interests to ensure that the global free trade system works.

One U.S. official said that Mnuchin represents the president’s strong belief in free trade. “But the environment we’re in now, where the expectation is America totally subordinates its national interests in order for the free trade system to work, is just one we don’t accept. So, we’ve been very clear, we believe in free trade with reciprocal terms that lead to more balanced trade relationships,” he said.

Trade ministers from numerous countries are petitioning the U.S. to be exempted from the 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said discussions with Commerce Secretary Ross regarding an exemption for the EU were “constructive” and could make it “possible to find a solution that can still avoid a decline into a heavy trade conflict.” He added that it was unclear whether differences could be resolved by the March 23 deadline when the Section 232 tariffs will go into effect.

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