G-20 Leaders Set to Reach Compromise on Trade at Summit

Marie Harrington
July 10, 2017

"There was a question mark there, as to whether or not the EU. would be able to continue signing free trade agreements in the future", said André Sapir, an worldwide trade expert and a former economic adviser to the European Union's Director General for Economic and Financial Affairs.

China now makes more than half of the world's steel, and USA officials have accused it of "dumping" excess steel on global markets in a way that drives down prices.

The final statement also underlined Mr Trump's lone stand on climate change, saying that all G-20 members, except for the U.S., "state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible". "We ask the G-20 economies to join us in this effort and to take concrete actions to solve these problems".

- According to a new report, President Trump's aggressive stance on global trade may be working in America's favor.

But Trump has even contemplated pulling the United States out of the World Trade Organization itself. They are hoping to galvanize other countries at the G-20 to work together to confront China over its government support for the domestic steel industry, with the idea that joint pressure could be more effective and remove the possibility that the United States has to move alone.

The national-security case for tariffs is weak.

Trump's support for the G-20 communiqué, to be released later Saturday, as the president threatens to undermine the global order with his "America First" policies is emerging as a rallying cry as the two-day gathering in Germany draws to a close. "Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?"

Mr Trump's administration is weighing whether to impose tariffs, quotas or a combination of both on steel imports under national security grounds through Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, even though only a fraction of USA steel is used for defence.

In advance of the G-20 summit, Merkel and Trump discussed "global steel overcapacity" during a phone call on Monday.

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The White House confirmed last week Trump plans to use the premise of the probe as a catalyst to demand action by the Group of 20 leaders to reduce excess capacity in steel, the second biggest industry in the world after oil and gas.

The European Union has already promised to retaliate if it is hit by US steel tariffs. In 2015, China produced 10 times as much crude steel as the United States.

Shortly before his departure, Trump also lashed out at China for failing to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

"China's trade with the North grew 37.4 percent during the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2016, Chinese trade data released in April showed".

- President Trump left Wednesday morning for Poland, where he will stop for a brief visit before heading to Germany for the much-anticipated G20 summit. If Trump announces the tariffs on steel imports, Juncker added that Europe's response would come in days following the decision, rather than months.

More broadly, concerns about trade and its impact on workers figured large in the 2016 US presidential election and in Britain's referendum vote to leave the European Union, a free-trade bloc.

By now, most US allies had expected to be settling into the Hillary Clinton era, forging progress based on a shared vision of Western civilization, pursuing familiar multilateral approaches to saving the planet and to globalization.

But at this summit, the official said, "there are lots of blank spots" in the drafts of the final statement - "and not on the easy topics". Underwhelming results at the end of the 100 days could lead to disappointment that cuts against the two leaders' constructive tone.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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