Mnuchin: US partners more comfortable with Trump on trade

G7 finance summit financial regulation

G7 finance summit financial regulation

During his presidential campaign, Trump charged that past administrations had failed to take a tough stand on enforcing trade agreements and this failure had cost millions of good-paying factory jobs and resulted in an enormous USA trade deficit.

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde arrives for the opening session of the G7 of Finance ministers in Bari, southern Italy, Friday, May 12, 2017.

Aso made the remarks when asked whether he shared the view by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that other G7 countries are growing comfortable with U.S. policies.

Mnuchin said that after meetings in Bari and a broader finance summit in Baden-Baden, Germany in March, "people feel a level of comfort" in understanding the Trump administration policies.

Yet, he added, "We don't want to be protectionist, but we reserve our rights to be protectionist to the extent that we believe that trade is not free and fair".

One partner openly pushing back was Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who rejected as "baseless" duties the USA imposed on some Canadian lumber imports. "We are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies", the G7 communique read.

"The emphasis was initially on a border tax, which is taxation, but also trade policy", said Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan in an interview.

They include faster-than-expected US interest rate increases, which could affect some developing economies by triggering an outflow of capital and investment, and China's reliance on excessively rapid credit expansion for growth. "I am quite confident that the development will continue, that the US administration will engage more strongly in this process".

The Italian G7 presidency has listed security as a "global public good" - including issues related to anti-terrorism financing, remittances and cyber security - and one of its four finance priorities. "We're going to try to get this done as quickly as we can".

The United States believes the world's other rich economies are getting used to the policy plans of President Donald Trump, but Europe and Japan remain anxious about Washington's shift.

In their closing statement, the finance ministers warned that long-term growth could remain subdued and that steps need to be taken to make the global economy work for everyone.

They also called for a renewed common effort against cybercrime, a timely message in the wake of Friday's ransom ware attacks in dozens of countries.

The G7 is made up of the United States and six other major economies - Canada, Germany, Japan, Britain, France and Italy. The European Union also attends the informal forum.

The US is adamantly challenging the status quo in worldwide trade, and as a result, the most recent G7 meeting produced an indecisive communique, indicating the rising degree of uncertainty, possibly bearing the seeds of trade wars and greater currency manipulations in the global struggle for competitiveness.

The agreements, presented in the form of a final statement, are not legally binding but they represent the leaders' political commitment to follow through.

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