At the Group of 20 Summit held in Baden-Baden, Germany, which concluded Saturday, the world's top economic nations issued a statement that reflected a more subtle tone on the issue of trade protectionism, compared to what the finance ministers had committed to in the September 2016 summit in Hangzhou, China. The statement came in the backdrop of President Donald Trump administration's pushback against anti-protectionism, so that trade must benefit U.S. companies and workers, according to reports.
Finance ministers from the 20 leading world powers concluded talks without agreeing on a common position that would have renewed their long-standing pledge for free trade. The G20 finance ministers' communique failed to keep up its past commitments, such as promoting open trade and an outright rejection of protectionism, Deutsche Welle reported.
In the summit in September 2016, world leaders had reaffirmed their opposition to protectionism on trade and investment in all its forms. However, during the Germany summit, their statement did not have any mention of this.
The meeting was a clear indication that the U.S. had an upper hand when it came to formulating the policies of world trade. It also marked the biggest clash between the Trump administration and the international community. According to reports, officials sought to replace G20's long-standing opposition to all forms of protectionism with a new text that would highlight U.S. concerns over "fair" trade, but no compromise was reached to at the end.
"This is my first G20, so what was in the past communiqué is not necessarily relevant from my standpoint," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during the summit. "I understand what the president's desire is and his policies, and I negotiated them from here," Mnuchin said. "I couldn’t be happier with the outcome," he said, according to Reuters.
The G20 is a platform where 19 countries plus the European Union discuss economic cooperation. The next summit, which will have the heads of states from the member countries, will be held in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8.