The United States remains committed to free trade but wants to re-examine certain agreements and correct some excesses, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on March 18 after G-20 finance chiefs backtracked on past commitments about trade.
Making only a token reference to trade in their communique, finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the world’s top 20 economies broke with a decadelong tradition of endorsing open trade, a clear defeat for host nation Germany, which has fought to maintain the G-20’s past commitments.
In the new U.S. administration’s biggest clash yet with the international community, G-20 finance chiefs rowed back on a pledge to reject protectionism and maintain an open and inclusive global trade system.
Although the government is also reviewing financial regulations, Mnuchin pledged support for the now stalled Basel III accord, a major global attempt to regulate lenders consistently.
President Donald Trump’s administration has previously expressed its will to make international trade rules fairer, raising concerns among exporting nations like Germany.
At the end of the summit, Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble who was hosting the event, said there had been a broad consensus among G-20 financial chiefs that open trade was key to strengthening economic resilience.
On the other hand, some members like France said they were frustrated by the lack of a rejection of protectionism in the final communique.