monday, 20 march of 2017

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.

(Published by BBC - March 18, 2017)

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