Published: Thu, March 22, 2018
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

G20 to recognize need for 'further dialogue and actions' on trade

G20 to recognize need for 'further dialogue and actions' on trade

The finance ministers and central bank governors of the main world economic powers hold their first meetings of 2018 today and tomorrow in Buenos Aires. They say they are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to the global economy.

Two officials briefed on the matter said Trump is expected to unveil tariffs on up to US$60 billion in Chinese technology and telecoms products by Friday, the same day that tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium are to apply. "So, we've been very clear, we believe in free trade with reciprocal terms that leads to more balanced trade relationships", he said.

"There's no doubt that the secretary represents the president's very strong view that we believe in free trade", one United States official told reporters.

Others at the G20 meeting, which will conclude on Tuesday with a joint communique, shared Germany's concern.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development had warned that trade protectionism is a "key risk", saying safeguarding the rules-based worldwide trading system is essential to protecting growth prospects that could be harmed by a retreat from open markets.

After meeting with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he and Ross agreed that U.S. -EU talks on the tariffs should be intensified.

The European Commission has said that, if the EU is not exempted, it should set duties of 25 percent on a range of US products, whose annual imports to the EU are worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.45 billion). "We want that world trade remains fair and void of dumping measures", Altmaier said.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is leading the way in normalising monetary policy after years of heavy money printing to spur economic growth.

The Hamburg Summit communique, which was signed by Trump in July 2017, says that G20 countries would "continue to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices".

But the official said there were differences among the G20 finance leaders on whether to debate global imbalances from a bilateral perspective or a multilateral one.

But it also said G20 leaders "recognize the role of legitimate trade defense instruments", an ambiguity which provides the United States with a way to argue its cause on the tariffs.

The G20 communique said "recent market volatility despite sound fundamentals of the global economy is a reminder of risks and vulnerabilities", a wording that was not included in previous communiques.

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