G-20 finance chiefs warn of FX rate volatility

The Group of 20 nations, meeting in Germany on Saturday, said in a communique that they are "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the finance minister of host country Germany, sought to play down any disagreements.

Speaking to Reuters ahead of the meeting, Schäuble said the protectionist stance of the new USA administration could complicate the talks and force policymakers to leave out the disputed trade issue. The organization is one of several worldwide groups invited to participate in the meeting.

At Baden Baden, the world's biggest economies have also pledged to "jointly fight" cyber-attacks on the global banking system, one of the biggest co-ordinated efforts yet to protect lenders since an $81mn heist of the Bangladesh central bank's account previous year. Possible replacements include support for "fairness". Europe was keen on adding that trade should be "rules-based", meaning subject to rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Trump administration has regularly targeted China's yuan policy, accusing the country of keeping its exchange rate artificially low and driving a $350 billion (€326 billion) annual surplus with the US.

The summit of finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries comprising more than 80 percent of the global economy is in progress in the southern German resort town of Baden-Baden.

In two days of meetings in Baden-Baden, delegates split under the pressure of the new US rhetoric on the balance of global trade, with most favoring a multilateral, rules-based system as now embodied in the World Trade Organization.

The world's biggest economies have dropped a long-standing public endorsement of free trade at their first meeting with the Trump administration. "Free trade has led to a lot of bad things happening".

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The stipulation on free trade will most likely be delayed for the scheduled G20 leaders meeting in Hamburg next July.

US President Donald Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" platform, has already pulled his country out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with Japan and other countries.

Germany has been found itself in the crosshairs of U.S. criticism over its massive trade surplus.

In a visit to Berlin ahead of the G-20 meeting, Mnuchin said the U.S.is interested in trade that is not only free but fair. According to reports, officials were looking to replace the group's long standing opposition to "all forms" of protectionism with a new wording that would reflect United States concerns and reference "fair" trade.

"There is a lot of pressure at this meeting to get leaders on the same page on trade", said LeCompte.

Trump, whose tough protectionist talk helped win him the presidency, has withdrawn the U.S. from a trans-Pacific free trade pact and attacked export giants China and Germany.

Some advocates, like the International Monetary Fund, readily concede that the benefits of free trade have been uneven across societies, as less skilled workers lose out and the better trained prosper.

  • Carlos Nash