United States stance on trade forces rest of G20 to wait

The Trump administration opposed the group’s annual free trade statement

But Steven Mnuchin could not be moved. "Consensus was reached on addressing and reducing excessive global imbalances while promoting greater inclusiveness and reducing inequality in pursuit of economic growth", Treasury highlighted.

They made the remarks on March 17 at the BRICS summit for finance ministers and central bankers held in Germany's southwestern city of Baden-Baden.

Trump railed against global trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and former President Barack Obama's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The lack of an explicit rejection of protectionism at the meeting, unlike in previous communiques, has been criticised by members such as France and Germany, whose finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, lamented that the fight against protectionism "means different things" to different countries. Pierre Moscovici, European commissioner for economic affairs, said Mr Mnuchin had come as a man who wanted constructive engagement, adding he had been easy to talk to and displayed a "positive approach".

"We are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".

China will work actively with parties concerned to push forward the financial cooperation among the BRICS countries and make more achievements, China's finance minister and central bank chief have said.

ANALYST TAKE: "A key downside risk for the global economy is an increase in protectionism and an outbreak of trade wars", said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

The change in rhetoric marks the influence of US President Donald Trump on the G20 summit. In a press conference later, he said that "there wasn't a G-20 disagreement, there was disagreement within the G-20 between a country and all the others". During his campaign, Trump threatened unilateral tariffs on Mexican and Chinese goods and said he would quit the North American Free Trade agreement unless it is renegotiated to his liking.

The delegation from Beijing were keen to build on president Xi Jinping's headline-grabbing speech in Davos, where the leader of the communist China made a robust defence of globalisation.

"This is my first G20, so what was in the past communique is not necessarily relevant from my standpoint", Mnuchin said.

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