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Free trade, anti-protectionist language dropped from final communique


03-19-2017 11:12 BJT

(Source: CGTN)

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday shrugged off an outcry over the omission of a long-standing anti-protectionist pledge from a G20 finance ministers' statement, saying language used in the past is "irrelevant".

The U.S. Treasury Secretary stands alone among G20 finance ministers. The sole dissenting voice has shattered a long-held consensus.

"From our stand-point, we thought it was very important for the communique to reflect what was discussed here. And the historical language was not relevant," said Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary.

No mention of the international agreement on climate change backed in previous meetings. And not a word about free trade - another unprecedented break with the past.

"In the U.S. administration it is possibly still a bit different. And so it was a bit complicated, that's true, because of course on the one hand we are in complete agreement that fair and open trade leads to resilience and sustainable growth," said Wofgang Schaeuble, German Finance Minister.

Steven Mnuchin's Friday message was one of re-assurance to his G20 partners. During discussions, major differences were irreconcilable. Including on internationally agreed financial regulations - which the U.S. is considering unilaterally rolling back.

Such measures were designed to prevent another financial crisis. Mnuchin said after more than a decade, it was time to look again at their effectiveness. Though backing for them ultimately remained in the final document. Suggesting a go-it-alone approach may now be less likely.

The UK called for more time to find compromise. Others are understood to be less patient. Perhaps France's finance minister summed it up best when he said the G20's solution to the disagreements here - was to say nothing at all. 

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