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Trade

Trade tensions threaten global economic growth, G20 cautions

Finance ministers and central bankers say risks to the world economy have increased.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2018, 4:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2018, 4:40am

Trade tensions threaten global growth as the engines of leading economies fall out of sync, the world’s top finance chiefs warned on Sunday.

Global growth remains robust and many emerging-market countries are better prepared to face crises, but risks to the world economy have increased, finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations said in a statement published at the end of their two-day summit in Buenos Aires.

The main risks are “rising financial vulnerabilities, heightened trade and geopolitical tensions, global imbalances, inequality and structurally weak growth,” the statement read.

Emerging markets also face threats including market volatility and capital outflows, according to the G20.

The group’s March statement did not mention trade tensions.

Trade dominated discussions over the weekend after President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to levy tariffs on additional imports from China worth billions of dollars.

China and EU told to respect free trade

While Australia and Canada said the US remains committed to free and open trade, Europeans had tougher language for the US administration on trade.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire over the weekend urged the US to return to reason and said the EU would not negotiate trade issues “with a gun to the head”.

Officials said they reaffirmed their exchange rate commitments made in March, when they pledged to refrain from competitive devaluations.

Prospects of an intense debate on currencies had dramatically increased on Friday when Trump accused the EU and China of manipulating their foreign exchange rates to obtain trade benefits and said a strong dollar and rising Fed interest rates were undermining US competitiveness.

Mnuchin said at the weekend that Trump was not trying to intervene in the currency market and fully supported Federal Reserve independence.

I’m ready to put tariffs on every import from China, US President Donald Trump warns

And the currency issue did not come up during Saturday discussions, according to Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Despite escalating tensions, it was important to convey a positive message during the meetings to protect investor sentiment, Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison told Bloomberg News.

He added that no country has been pursuing “protectionism for protectionism’s sake.”

“There are some grievances that have been around for a decade,” Morrison said. “There is legitimate frustration about the failure of the system to resolve the issues that concern the US and others.”