Photographer: Franziska Kraufmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

G-20 Said to Be Stuck on Trade Language After German Nod to U.S.

  • U.S. wants to drop reference to multilateral, rule-based trade
  • Nations including France and Brazil said to refuse compromise

Some Group of 20 nations refused a German compromise on free-trade language that was aimed at accommodating U.S. concerns as finance ministers and central bankers meet in the spa town of Baden-Baden.

Negotiators from countries including France, the U.K., Italy, Brazil and Singapore -- as well as the European Commission -- rejected a proposal that dropped a commitment to “multilateral” and “rule-based” trade, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because the proceedings are private. The U.S. had requested the changes, and asked that a reference to “fair” international trade to be included.

G-20 negotiations often hinge on tiny changes in the formulation of official documents, and the U.S. delegation’s dislike of the terms in earlier draft documents hints at President Donald Trump’s skepticism over a global trading system that revolves around World Trade Organization rules. He has previously claimed the U.S. had few benefits in the past from trade agreements -- which explains the request for a reference to “fairness.”

Another push by the U.S., to drop an explicit rejection of protectionism, will likely succeed, the person said. That line was included in the main communique after a meeting of G-20 financial officials last year in Chengdu, China.

Instead, the debate has moved on to an annex proposed by the German G-20 presidency on the principles for building resilience in the global economy.

In that document, a compromise suggested by German negotiators called on G-20 nations to “strengthen the international trading system by ensuring it guarantees prosperity, fairness, openness and inclusiveness.” The lack of support from some delegations means that issue may now be taken up by finance ministers on Friday, and could even be referred to the leaders summit in Hamburg in July.

You might like: