As global finance chiefs return from their first collective engagement with the Trump administration, they’re bringing home a load of unfinished business.
While the weekend meeting of the Group of 20 in the German spa town of Baden-Baden kept up its tradition of a communique to present a veneer of agreement, it only did so by papering over new cracks in the order underpinning the world economy. Barely hinting at the merits of free trade, the statement’s omissions show how global economic diplomacy is now beset with a fault line that could overshadow it for months, if not years.
As recently as last July, the G-20 had promised to “resist all forms of protectionism,” a pledge now absent as the previous consensus on commerce is challenged by the recent election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Before he and the rest of the group’s leaders meet again in Hamburg in July, his counterparts have little more than 100 days to gauge if the removal of those words represents the beginning or the end of his administration’s attempt to reset global terms of trade that it abhors as economically unfair.
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