U.S. tariffs, China trade tensions overshadow G20 finance conference

U.S. tariffs, China trade tensions overshadow G20 finance conference

Buenos Aires (Reuters) : Worries about the potential for a U.S.-China trade war and frustration over U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum U.S. tariffs threatened to dominate a meeting of finance leaders this week in the middle of intensification growth.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who arrives on Sunday in Buenos Aires in ahead of a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers, will be in a position of defending Trump’s trade plans against extensive criticism from G20 partners.

At the same time, he is likely to pay attention to pleas for exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, said Edwin Truman, a former Treasury and Federal Reserve international policy official now with the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Truman said  “He’s going to get an earful from them.”

“Mnuchin is going to be playing defense in his comments and he’ll put the best face on it that he can,” Truman added.

The U.S. import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, set to become effective on March 23, have raised alarms among trading partners that Trump is following through on his threats to dismantle the decades-old trading system based around World Trade Organization rules in favor of unilateral U.S. actions.

Potentially broader anti-China tariffs and asset limitations under consideration as part of a U.S. intellectual property probe have raised concerns that reprisal could seriously diminish global trade and choke off the strongest global growth since the G20 was formed at some stage in the 2008 financial crisis.

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