G20 calls for greater dialogue on trade tensions: draft

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire shake hands at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires Argentina

The US treasury secretary referred to President Donald Trump's threat of imposing tariffs on all Chinese imports. He said France will not negotiate a free trade agreement with the USA while its tariffs are in force.

"If Europe believes in free trade, we're ready to sign a free trade agreement", Mr Mnuchin said, adding that such a deal would require the elimination of tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies.

FILE - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks in Paris, May 15, 2018.

"The prosperity gains are greater for all if we cooperate", Scholz said at the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Saturday reiterated calls for "free and fair world trade" at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.

Global growth also may have peaked at 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019, and downside risks have risen due to the tariff spat, the International Monetary Fund said.

In his opening salvo at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mr Mnuchin urged China and the European Union to respect "free, fair and reciprocal trade" amid talk of an escalating global trade conflict, but his French counterpart fired back that the United States must "return to reason".

Lagarde's presentation came shortly after Mnuchin said there was no "macro" effect yet on the US economy.

At the close of the last G20 meeting in Argentina in March, the financial leaders representing 75 percent of world trade and 85 percent of gross domestic product released a joint statement that rejected protectionism and urged "further dialogue", to little concrete effect.

He said that there had been some "micro" effects such as retaliation against US-produced soybeans, lobsters and bourbon.

Finance minister Bill Morneau is set to meet this weekend with G20 counterparts in Argentina amid escalating tensions over trade and tariffs.

The finance ministers of G20 countries gathered in Buenos Aires for talks on Saturday and Sunday that are set to see the Trump administration's protectionist policies and implementation of tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods in recent months be a major source of frustration.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire emphasized that without the lifting of United States import tariffs on aluminum and steel, negotiations on a trade agreement with the European Union would not be possible. The ministers will stress that trade restrictions "hurt everyone", a German official said.

Mnuchin told reporters on Saturday that he has not seen a macroeconomic impact from the USA tariffs on steel, aluminum and Chinese goods, along with retaliation from trading partners. "I think restraint will eventually take hold".

The U.S. dollar fell the most in three weeks on Friday against a basket of six major currencies.DXY after Trump complained again about the greenback's strength and about Federal Reserve interest rate rises, halting a rally that had driven the dollar to its highest in a year.

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