Friday 19 July 2019

Tensions on trade fail to ease after talks

European Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. Photo: Reuters
European Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. Photo: Reuters
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

European Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has said differences of position on trade tensions remained after talks among G20 finance ministers in Argentina, but the meeting was not tense.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin sought to use the meeting to woo Europe and Japan with the offer of free-trade deals, in a bid to gain leverage with traditional allies in its dispute with China.

However, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire rebuffed the overture, saying Washington must drop tariffs before talks could start.

Austria's Hubert Fuchs, as European Council representative, was more conciliatory and welcomed the US approach.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Mr Mnuchin expressed a goal for all G7 countries to "drop all tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies".

Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's largest economies meeting in Buenos Aires said heightened trade and geopolitical tensions risk derailing global growth and called for greater dialogue, according to a draft communique from the event.

The weekend talks came amid an escalation in the trade conflict between the US and China.

US President Donald Trump raised the stakes on Friday when he threatened tariffs on all Chinese exports to the United States unless Beijing agreed major structural changes to its technology transfer, industrial subsidy and joint venture policies.

Mr Trump has angered European allies by imposing import tariffs on steel and aluminium, causing the European Union to retaliate with tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Kentucky bourbon and other products.

Irish Independent

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