G20 finance ministers meet as America First casts pall

So far, officials at the G-20 finance ministers' meeting in the German spa town of Baden-Baden haven't been able agree on whether to confirm their longstanding opposition to protectionism, the use of import taxes and rules by a country to shield its own companies. Attaching a separate document also would allow Germany to clarify its priorities and avoid them from being overshadowed by what could be a more heated debate on protectionism and currency policy.

"It is perhaps the clues this meeting may hold over future USA trade deals that will provide the most meaningful direction", he said.

In a thinly disguised broadside at the new United States administration, which has signalled it intends to roll back Wall Street regulation, Mr Schaeuble said: "I'm fully aware that many of you in the room are not fans of regulation".

The G20 nations have been in agreement that they oppose any forms of protectionism and encourage free trade as a way to foster the world economy.

"We will promote the resilience of financial services and institutions in G20 jurisdictions against malicious use of information and communication technologies, including from countries outside the G20", it said.

Fears are high that the final version of the communique may change these crucial words.

Countries like France, Italy, China and Brazil argued - against USA resistance - for keeping a reference to "rules-based" trade in the final communique, while Germany pushed for a compromise solution referring only to "fairness". "We reaffirm our previous exchange rate commitments including that we will refrain from competitive devaluations and we will not target exchange rates for competitive purposes", it said.

At a news conference in Germany, where he will participate in a Group of 20 finance ministers meeting, Mnuchin said President Donald Trump views trade as important for economic growth.

European delegations will also argue against Trump's plans to roll back US legislation, called the Dodd-Frank Act, introduced to prevent a financial crisis like that one in 2008.

The German finance minister has given the City a strong vote of confidence ahead of Brexit negotiations, saying it's in the EU's best interest that London remains a strong financial centre after Brexit.

But asked if he is afraid that the United States might roll back financial market regulation, Germany's Schaeuble said: "This concern is not big".

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