G20 finance ministers in STARK warning

23 Juillet, 2018, 09:12 | Auteur: Auguste Feret

Trump has angered allies by imposing import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, sparking retaliatory tariffs from the European Union and Canada on a range of USA products. Mr Trump, who frequently criticises Europe's 10 per cent auto tariffs, is also studying adding a 25 per cent levy on automotive imports, which would hit both Europe and Japan hard.

The reality of a trade war has arrived, according to Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, speaking as G20 ministers gathered for a summit in Argentina.

The official was responding to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said that Washington is ready for a free trade agreement, but only if it includes "no tariffs, no non-tariff barriers and no subsidies".

The world's two largest economies have slapped tariffs on US$34 billion worth of each other's goods so far.

The meeting came a day after US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all $500 billion Chinese exports to the US.

In a briefing note prepared for the G20 participants, the International Monetary Fund said if all of Trump's threatened tariffs - and equal retaliation - went into effect, the global economy could lose up to 0.5 percent of GDP, or $430 billion, by 2020.

Finance ministers and representatives from G-20 nations met in Buenos Aires this week to discuss the global economy.

Group of 20 members pleaded on Sunday for increased dialogue to defuse escalating trade tensions that could hit global economic growth hard.

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Finance ministers for both Mexico and Canada said they saw optimism from Washington that an agreement to modernize the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be reached in coming months after talks stalled. But from a "macro standpoint we do not yet see any significant pattern on the economy".

Global finance leaders called on Sunday for stepped-up dialogue to prevent trade and geopolitical tensions from hurting growth, but ended a two-day G20 meeting with little consensus on how to resolve multiple disputes over USA tariff actions.

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici speaks during a news conference at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 22, 2018.

He said the final communique would reflect the need for members, particularly in emerging markets that have been roiled by currency weakness, to undertake reforms to protect themselves against volatility.

"Unfortunately, it does not look like we will take big steps forward in Buenos Aires", German finance minister Olaf Scholz told Reuters. "I don't expect tangible progress to be made at this meeting", Mr Scholz told reporters on the plane to Buenos Aires.

Recently imposed USA tariffs will cost Germany up to €20 billion ($23 billion) in income this year, according to academic researchers at the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK), which is part of the Hans-Böckler Foundation in Düsseldorf.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he hoped the debate at the G-20 gathering would lead to an easing of retaliatory trade measures. The United States has said it will challenge those tariffs at the World Trade Organization.


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