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G-20 Drops Anti-Protectionist Pledge as Price of U.S. Assent

• by Rainer Buergin , Jeff Black , and Josh Wingrove

Group of 20 nations said in a communique on Saturday that they are "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies." While the U.S. didn't get all it wanted -- such as a explicit pledge to ensure trade is fair -- that's a much pared-down formulation compared with the group's statement last year, and omits a promise to "avoid all forms of protectionism."

In two days of meetings in the German town of Baden-Baden, the argument by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in his first appearance at an international forum in the role, reflects claims by President Donald Trump that his nation has had a bad deal from the current global trade setup. That attitude pitched him against most other delegates, who favored a multilateral, rules-based system as embodied in the World Trade Organization.

"My view is that the Americans were doing what any new administration would do -- they were looking at the language through their lens," said Bill Morneau, Canada's finance minister, who made a last-ditch push for the compromise. "Their lens is: how can trade benefit the U.S.? Everyone else has the same lens, but every other country has the advantage of being at the previous meeting."

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