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 tariffs threatened to dominate a gathering of finance leaders this week amid strengthening growth.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who arrives on Sunday in Buenos Aires 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 widespread criticism from G20 partners.
Time - Pleas - Exemptions - Steel - Aluminum
At the same time, he is likely to hear 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.
“He’s going to get an earful from them,” Truman said.
Mnuchin - Defense - Comments - Face - Truman
“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.
Tariffs - Investment - Restrictions - Consideration - Part
Potentially broader anti-China tariffs and investment restrictions under consideration as part of a U.S. intellectual property probe have raised concerns that retaliation could seriously diminish global trade and choke off the strongest global growth since the G20 was formed during the 2008 financial crisis.
Reuters reported last week that the Trump administration was considering punitive tariffs on some $60 billion worth of Chinese information technology, telecoms and consumer products annually.
G20 - Officials - Finance - Ministers - Host
Several G20 officials, including the finance ministers from host country Argentina and Germany, said they will insist on maintaining G20 communique language emphasizing “the crucial role of the rules-based international trading system.”
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