G20 finance ministers meet as America First casts pall


Finance ministers from the world’s top nations gather in Germany today as fears grow of a looming trade war over US President Donald Trump’s America First policy.
Trump has already torn up a trans-Pacific free trade pact, threatened punitive tariffs against multinationals with factories outside the United States and attacked “currency manipulation” by export giant China.
And his stated aim of keeping jobs at home by making it costly for American companies to outsource is likely to dominate talks at the G20 gathering of finance ministers and central bankers in the western German spa town of Baden-Baden.
Trump’s emissary, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is set to face scrutiny from Washington’s key trading partners for clues on whether the world’s biggest economy fully intends to abandon its long-standing support of open markets and free trade.
On the eve of the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a rare joint pledge, saying they would “together fight for free trade and open markets”.
The statement by the leaders of the two major exporters also came a day before Merkel is due to meet Trump in Washington for the first time, when the chancellor is expected to make a push for open markets.—AFP

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