Business

G20 finance chiefs share concerns over escalating trade friction

Kyodo

Finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies shared their concerns Saturday in Buenos Aires over escalating global trade friction stemming from U.S. protectionist measures.

Following Saturday’s session of the two-day meeting, a Japanese government source said such concerns were expressed by most participants.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said he criticized the United States at the meeting for its recent spate of moves to increase tariffs on a broad range of imports, telling his G20 counterparts, “Inward-looking policies would benefit no country.”

He also called for maintaining economic growth through “trade based on free and fair rules.”

Washington should not impose tariffs for the sake of eliminating its trade deficit, but should use macroeconomic policy, Aso told reporters.

New tariffs imposed by Washington on its largest trading partners and retaliatory measures by China, the European Union and Canada have shaken financial markets and raised the specter of reduced global growth.

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors are expected to issue a joint statement following their meeting Sunday in the Argentine capital. In their March conference, they recognized the “need for further dialogue and actions” on trade issues.

U.S. President Donald Trump came under fire at last month’s Group of Seven summit over new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

He has since invoked further tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, leading Beijing to retaliate in kind, and threatened to slap tariffs on another $200 billion.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has no plans to hold bilateral talks with his Chinese counterparts on the sidelines of the G20 meeting, a U.S. official said this week.

Japan has so far refrained from hitting back against the new U.S. metals tariffs. But the export-reliant country would be hit hard by possible levies on foreign automobiles.

Aso demanded at the G20 meeting that China increase the transparency of its currency policies amid the yuan’s recent decline, he told reporters. The Chinese side denied that Beijing has deliberately guided the currency lower.

Aso also said G20 financial leaders confirmed the need to pay attention to the risk that normalizing monetary policies in the United States and Europe will induce a capital outflow from emerging economies.

Aso was scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Mnuchin on Sunday morning.

The G20 finance chiefs were also expected to discuss infrastructure finance, terrorism financing and digital tax, a Japanese official said ahead of the meeting.

The G20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.