G20 may sidestep trade
issue due to discord with U.S.: Schaeuble
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[March 16, 2017]
By Gernot Heller and Michael Nienaber
(Reuters) - The protectionist stance of the new U.S. administration
could complicate G20 talks this week and force policymakers to leave out
the disputed trade issue, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
told Reuters in an interview.
Speaking ahead of the G20 gathering of finance ministers and central
bankers in the German town of Baden-Baden on Friday and Saturday,
Schaeuble said it was still unclear if the G20 would keep joint language
supporting free trade and open markets.
"There are differing views on this subject," Schaeuble said, pointing to
"America First" comments by U.S. President Donald Trump and other senior
U.S. government officials.
"It's possible that we explicitly exclude the topic of trade in
Baden-Baden and say that can only be resolved at the summit of the state
and government leaders."
An early draft communique for the G20 meeting had suggested that the
world's financial leaders might no longer explicitly reject
protectionism, breaking with a decade-old tradition.
"This is not the ideal solution, but it would not be such a big deal,"
Schaeuble said about the possibility that the G20 members might fail to
reach an agreement on trade.
The final communique of Baden-Baden should send the message that
international cooperation is still robust in times of growing
geopolitical risks, Schaeuble said.
He said he believed the G20 would keep established language rejecting
foreign exchange rate manipulation. "That's my expectation," Schaeuble
Schaeuble said he would ask his U.S. counterpart Steven Mnuchin during
talks in Berlin later on Thursday to explain any plans to overhaul the
U.S. tax code and favor exports over imports by introducing a border
"I'll tell him the arguments that from my point of view speak against
changing the tax system of the whole world," Schaeuble said. "I hope
that we'll achieve sensible results."
[to top of second column]
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble poses in his office
during an interview with Reuters at the Finance Ministry in Berlin,
Germany, March 15, 2017. Picture taken March 15, 2017. To match
Interview GERMANY-G20/SCHAEUBLE REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Schaeuble also said that he did not expect Washington to roll back all
financial market regulations after Trump ordered reviews of major
banking rules put in place after the global financial crisis.
"I'm not that pessimistic," Schaeuble said, adding that the United
States had an interest in completing current negotiations of Basel III
Reacting to repeated U.S. criticism of Germany's large current account
surplus, Schaeuble said that Germany's strong export performance was
also a result of the European Central Bank's loose monetary policy.
"Unfortunately, I have to say, many who criticize the German surplus
have not supported me in the matter of not relying increasingly on
monetary policy to generate growth."
Schaeuble has repeatedly called for higher interest rates, urging
governments to create the conditions for sustainable growth by
implementing structural reforms.
The minister told Reuters that if the euro weakened further, it would
probably help to push up inflation in the currency bloc.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Jeremy
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