Mnuchin: US partners more comfortable with Trump on trade

15 May, 2017, 00:15 | Author: Elaine Woods

The Italian delegation, which is responsible for all of this year's G7 meetings including a summit of global leaders in Sicily in May, had sought to avoid a repeat of the scrap that broke out between the USA delegation and everyone else in the room - bar Japan - at the G20 meeting held between finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden-Baden in March.

And the timing of the discussion couldn't be more apt.

The secretary arrived in Bari saying he was "excited" about US trade policies after the announcement of a deal to boost exports of gas and beef to China, an agreement that was also noted by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

He said the Trump administration's economic policies aren't directly aimed at pursuing policies that would restrict trade, but rather are meant to spur US growth and aid the global economy. That follows two G-20 gatherings where Mnuchin refused to sign up to a well-established explicit shunning of protectionism, and pressed for trade to be "fair" and "reciprocal".

The Associated Press reports, "Mnuchin says major trading partners "are much more comfortable" with the Trump administration's stance on trade and tax policy and understand that they will benefit from the intended US growth". "But we reserve our rights to be protectionists to the extent that we believe that trade is not free and fair".

Steps taken by President Trump on trade and regulation since taking office have left foreign counterparts jittery.

"Our approach is for more balanced trade, and people have heard that", Mnuchin said.

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Italy is at the G7 table because of its very hectic growth and Germany because of its great trade surplus, as finance minister Wolfgang Schauble is expected to face criticism in Bari.

In a communique issued after their two-day meeting in Bari, southern Italy, the G-7 called cyberattacks "a growing threat" for the world economy and vowed to take measures in the wake of a global cyberattack Friday that infected tens of thousands of computers in almost 100 countries.

Even with the apparent thaw in relations, the USA still stands apart from the rest of G-7 on trade, climate change and other issues.

Trump's plans to cut taxes and raise trade barriers could, theoretically, give a short-term income boost to some workers, but would not deliver the long-term growth that is necessary for reducing the effects of inequality, according to Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize winning economist at Princeton University.

"We recognize that cyber incidents represent a growing threat for our economies and that appropriate economy-wide policy responses are needed", the countries' finance ministers and central bankers said in the statement. "We have to do that in a more profound way. and I think that is what is going on", he said.

That divergence augurs for potential disagreements when the nations' leaders gather in Sicily later this month - an event which marks Trump's first major global summit as U.S. President. "We will work to lift actual and potential growth, while ensuring that the fruits of economic growth are shared more widely", the statement said.

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