The different positions of protectionist President Donald Trump and finance chiefs from the world’s richest countries meant trade was downplayed at the latest meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers.
Instead in the two-day meeting in the southern Italian port city of Bari they have been focusing on inequality, international tax rules and cyber security but Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble had a message for Washington.
“We need a strong United States to lead the global economy and global politics in a sustainable way and the United States is still the most important political and economical power in the world and the best alliance for Europe,” he told reporters.
Participants revealed US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was subjected to pleas from ministers for Trump not to weaken long-established policies on trade and the banking regulations designed to prevent a repeat of the global financial crisis, even as they try to get a sense of how much is rhetoric and how much reality.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said: “It is unthinkable, and it will not happen, that one can destroy these collective achievements that give more stability .. and at the end of the day are truly in everyone’s interests.”
European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he hoped Trump would not abandon multilateralism and free trade. “We can discuss, we can have different appreciations, but we are in the same world and in the same boat,” he told reporters.
Several officials at the G7 raised concerns about risks to global growth from the Trump administration’s policy proposals, including tax reform, a senior US Treasury official said.
Trump has vowed to revamp the US tax code with major cuts for businesses and ease business regulatory burdens.