Deepening Trade Tensions Pose Threat to World Economy, G-20 Claims

After days of wrangling over the wording of a communique, finance chiefs from the world’s largest economies warned that escalating trade and geopolitical tensions pose the biggest risk to global growth, Bloomberg informs.

Officials said that although growth appears to be stabilizing, it “remains low and risks remain tilted to the downside,” according to the statement. “Most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified. We will continue to address these risks, and stand ready to take further action.”

Trade issues dominated discussions as officials gathered in the port city of Fukuoka in southwestern Japan. The meeting opened with news of U.S. President Donald Trump’s reversal of plans for new tariffs on Mexico, offering a sliver of good news for officials facing a lengthening worry list.

The gathering also marked the first meeting of top U.S. and Chinese officials since negotiations between both governments for a trade agreement collapsed last month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote on Twitter that his talks with People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang were constructive and candid.

Behind closed doors, G-20 officials haggled over how to describe their assessment of key challenges including trade disputes, currencies and climate change, Bloomberg writes.

The language also shifted on currencies. A paragraph that explicitly spelled out the need for countries to avoid competitive devaluations was dropped in preference for a single line reaffirming past commitments.

A reference to a report on climate-related financial disclosures was not included in the final statement. While past G-20 gatherings such as those in the wake of the global financial crisis led to unified action, fraying alliances and rising populism are making coordinated policy harder.

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