Threat Of Trade War Dominates G20 Meeting In Buenos Aires

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Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world's 20 biggest economies are meeting in Buenos Aires to discuss the global economic outlook, capital flows, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and how to stop corporate tax avoidance.

"International trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development", they said in their joint statement Tuesday. "We are working to strengthen contribution of trade to our economies".

Their conclusions at the end of their two-day talks come as the United States is set to impose heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Friday, an action President Donald Trump said is aimed at defending national security. "So, we've been very clear, we believe in free trade with reciprocal terms that leads to more balanced trade relationships", he said.

"There was an agreement (among the G20 finance leaders) that trade wars and protectionism were inappropriate", the official told reporters.

The meeting was expected to call for stricter monitoring of cryptocurrencies, the decentralized and anonymous nature of which can turn them into "a potentially major new vehicle for money-laundering and financing of terrorism", according to the International Monetary Fund.

"There has always been concern expressed in global meetings that (policy normalization of major central banks) could have a negative effect on some emerging economies", Kuroda said.

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The Hamburg Summit communique, which was signed by Trump in July 2017, says that G20 countries would "continue to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices". Yet the US can also argue its tariffs are a "legitimate trade defence instrument".

"This is our moment to take action to address structural growth impediments, rebuild buffers, reduce excessive global imbalances, and mitigate risks", the communique said.

The European Commission has said that, if the EU is not exempted, it should set duties of 25 percent on a range of USA products, whose annual imports to the EU are worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.45 billion).

Minoru Kihara, Japan's vice finance minister, welcomed the statement, saying at a news conference, "We reached a shared recognition that protectionism will not benefit any country".

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, comparing this G20 meeting to the one in Germany previous year when Mnuchin demanded a rewrite of the longstanding communique language on trade, said the rest of the world now has a better sense of the USA view on how the rules of trade should be reworked. They say such currencies raise issues involving consumer and investor protection, money laundering and terrorist financing.

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