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G-20 finance chiefs voice concern over protectionism

  • March 20, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 12:10 p.m.
  • English Press

BUENOS AIRES — Finance chiefs from the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies expressed caution about risks posed by protectionist policies on their first day of talks in Buenos Aires on Monday.


The talks came amid concerns about a potential global trade war as the United States prepares to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports later this week.


“Members voiced concern about inward-looking policies,” Japanese Vice Finance Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters.


“A certain direction or details” to fight protectionism are expected to be incorporated in a joint statement to be released after the two-day meeting concludes on Tuesday, Kihara said.


On the global economic outlook, the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors agreed that the world economy continues to recover.


They also confirmed the need to keep close tabs on financial market movements, which have been volatile since February as marked by global stock market plunges, participants said.


The financial chiefs also agreed to strengthen global coordination in engineering sustainable growth through long-term structural reform including reducing disparities in living standards, according to the participants.


In the meeting, Kihara conveyed Japan’s policy of “boosting growth through free and fair trade.” He also urged participants “to take all necessary measures” to make North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions, including full implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.


The planned U.S. tariff hikes focus attention on whether G-20 finance chiefs can commit to defending global free trade as pledged at the group’s summit last year.


The G-20 leaders jointly announced at their meeting in July in Germany that they would “continue to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices” while recognizing the role of “legitimate trade defense instruments.”


In response to the planned U.S. tariffs, the European Union has already revealed a list of items that could be targeted for retaliatory action. Japan has been seeking to discuss an exemption from the U.S. measure.


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned that trade protectionism is a “key risk,” saying safeguarding the rules-based international trading system is essential to protecting growth prospects that could be harmed by a retreat from open markets.


The monitoring of cryptocurrencies is also high on the G-20 agenda as the explosion in the popularity of bitcoin and other digital currencies has prompted concerns about their use in money laundering. Calls have also been made to enhance protections for those holding the currencies.


France and Germany have said they will make a joint proposal on potential regulatory measures.


Japanese authorities were alarmed by the recent 58 billion yen ($547 million) theft from the Tokyo-based Coincheck Inc. exchange, with the country’s regulators calling on the operators of virtual currency trading platforms to initiate suitable risk management systems.


The G-20 delegates are also expected to discuss taxation on e-commerce companies operating internationally.


In the talks, Kihara and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda are representing Japan. Finance Minister Taro Aso skipped the meeting due to Diet deliberations.


The G-20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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