G20 leaders rollback commitment to free trade, anti-protectionism

World Today

President of the German Central Bank Jens Weidmann, center, talks to US’ Federal Reserve Board President Janet Yellen, left, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the G20 finance ministers meeting in Baden-Baden, southern Germany, Friday, March 17, 2017. (Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP)

G20 finance ministers have removed any mention of free trade in their final communiqué after a meeting in Germany. The move came under pressure from the United States. Also absent, any mention of climate change.

CGTN’s Guy Henderson filed this report.

G20 leaders rollback commitment to free trade, anti-protectionism

G20 leaders rollback commitment to free trade, anti-protectionism

G20 finance ministers have removed any mention of free trade in their final communiqué after a meeting in Germany. The move came under pressure from the United States. Also absent, any mention of climate change. CGTN’s Guy Henderson filed this report.
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The U.S. Treasury Secretary stands alone among G20 finance ministers; the sole dissenting voice has shattered a long-held consensus.

“From our standpoint, we thought it was very important for the communiqué to reflect what was discussed here. And the historical language was not relevant,” said Steve Mnuchin.

Not a word about free trade – an unprecedented break with the past.

There was also no mention of the international agreement on climate change backed in previous meetings.

Steven Mnuchin’s Friday message was one of reassurance to his G20 partners.

But 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.

However, 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 a compromise, but 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.

CGTN’s Susan Roberts talked to Ebong Eka, international business expert on the G20 finance ministers meeting.