Finance ministers from the world’s biggest economies have dropped pledges to renounce protectionism in a meeting marked by tension over trade between the US and others including China.
G20 finance ministers meeting in the German resort town of Baden-Baden noted the importance of trade to the global economy, but dropped tougher language from last year that vowed to “resist all forms of protectionism”.
The new communique said: “We are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies. We will strive to reduce excessive global imbalances, promote greater inclusiveness and fairness and reduce inequality in our pursuit of economic growth.”
The watered-down commitments on free trade reflected the anti-globalisation mood that Donald Trump has brought to Washington and came in the first G20 meetings between Steven Mnuchin, the new US Treasury secretary, and his foreign counterparts.
Is this a sign of the economic nationalist policies that will be coming from the Trump administration? Or is it a harmless way for the administration to express economic nationalist sentiments, without actually doing economic nationalist things?
I don't remember being all that reassured by the past language, and therefore my instinct is that I shouldn't worry too much about the new language.