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G-20 ministers fail to get Washington on board

G-20 ministers fail to get Washington on board

Mnuchin said the Trump administration would be looking at relationships where the USA was buying more than it could sell to its partner, and would be more aggressive in seeking enforcement of existing rules that would benefit US workers through the Geneva-based World Trade Organization.

Some advocates, such as 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.

The agreement isn't binding; members can only pressure others to abide by it.

"This is my first G20, so what was in the past communique is not necessarily relevant from my standpoint", Mnuchin said.

One day earlier, Trump, standing beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, complained about global trade agreements and said that the USA has gotten the short end of the stick in the past.

The deletion of a "ritualistic phrase" in the G20's core language could over time diminish USA influence, said Eswar Prasad, a former International Monetary Fund official and trade policy professor at Cornell University.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 66 cents to $48.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude, used to price global oils, lost 53 cents to trade $51.23 in London.


While Mnuchin concentrated on making good first impressions with his G20 counterparts, USA negotiators behind the scenes insisted that they could no longer accept previous language vowing "to resist all forms of protectionism".

Trump railed against worldwide trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and former President Barack Obama's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"We will strive to reduce excess global imbalances to promote inclusiveness and fairness and reduce inequality", he added, stressing that what Washington seeks is "free and fair trade" that is good for both Americans and the world.

The G20 is a informal forum on economic cooperation between 19 countries plus the European Union.

Mnuchin agreed to numerous meetings as he said he wanted to develop more relationships with his foreign counterparts.

Breaking with decades of tradition, G-20 economic ministers and bankers made only a token reference to open trade in a statement Saturday, a defeat for host nation Germany.

While delegates greeted Mnuchin and said that he had been engaged in the process, they said he didn't elaborate on how the USA considers itself to be treated unfairly. The company had been trying to restructure and said in February it faced a "going concern issue" if it did achieve a favorable outcome.


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