Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Finance Leaders Play Down Differences with Trump over Trade

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Finance Leaders Play Down Differences with Trump over Trade

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Global finance leaders are playing down differences over free trade with U.S. President Donald Trump, saying there is wide agreement that globalization delivers stronger economic growth.

But officials at the spring meetings of the 189-nation International Monetary Fund and World Bank warned Saturday that too many people had been left behind at a time when low-wage competition and automation have reduced factory jobs in the world's wealthy economies.

If more isn't done, "we will see more protectionism and countries retreating from globalization," said Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble. He commented after a meeting of the finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20, which represents the biggest global economies. Germany is chairing the group this year.

Eventually, the finance leaders dropped a sharp condemnation of trade protectionism and references to climate change from their closing statement.

This year's meetings were dominated by a debate over how to respond to a rising tide of anti-globalization sentiment evidenced in the U.S. by the election of Trump, who pledged in his campaign that he would reduce the nation's trade deficits, which he blamed for the loss of millions of good-paying factory jobs.

In its communique, the IMF urged nations to avoid "inward-looking policies," but it did not include tougher language the IMF had used in an October statement in which it had called on all countries to "resist all forms of protectionism." The new statement also dropped any mention of the threat of climate change.

Trump has threatened to impose punitive tariffs of up to 45 percent against Mexico, China and other nations he believes are competing unfairly with American workers. During his presidential campaign he called climate change a hoax.

At a closing news conference, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Agustin Carstens, head of the Bank of Mexico and chair of the IMF's policy committee, sought to downplay the changes. …

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