G-20 Draft Cites Growing Trade Tension, Diplomatically

(Bloomberg) -- Delegates at the Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs on Friday afternoon began the delicate task of addressing growing trade tensions without upsetting U.S. President Donald Trump.

Negotiators drafting the summit’s final statement in Buenos Aires worked on language that would reiterate a positive global economic outlook while highlighting risks, including the escalating dispute over trade, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The text may also recommend better communication to improve trade negotiations, though the exact language hasn’t yet been determined, the person said.

Finance ministers and central bankers in the Argentine capital are trying their best to seek common ground after the U.S. withdrew from the final statement at the Group of Seven summit in Canada last month. Talks are on track to produce a consensus document, the person said, cautioning that last-minute roadblocks can always appear.

Trump’s Tweets

Trump on Friday accused China and the euro area of manipulating their currencies, complaining that a rising dollar is blunting America’s “competitive edge.” The comments were the latest attack in a U.S.-led trade offensive, after the White House slapped tariffs on global steel and aluminum imports and put up barriers against Chinese goods.

Over the past decade the world’s 20 leading economies have met regularly to address pressing global economic and financial issues. They traditionally cap the meetings with a statement that summarizes key policy recommendations. The last G-20 gathering in March ended with a communique that noted the rise and potential risks of cryptocurrencies, though it omitted previous language on fighting protectionism and inward-looking policies.

While delegates privately discussed Trump’s latest tweets, they were not raised during formal talks, the person said.

Also on Friday, Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan said he was “concerned that the trade dispute may escalate” and that multilateral cooperation “remains vital to preserve the recovery.” Officials from the European Central Bank and People’s Bank of China declined to comment on Trump’s tweets.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.