US President Donald Trump has vowed to get tough on trade partners like China, Mexico and Germany. Now his Treasury chief, Steven Mnuchin, will get his first opportunity to confront them all in one room.
The meeting of the most powerful economies' finance ministers in Germany this week is likely to be dominated by talk about whether to commit to free trade, as previous meetings have - or implicitly accept that some countries may put up barriers, like tariffs, as Trump has promised.
The Group of 20 - 19 countries worth most of the global economy, plus the EU - are also due to discuss their longstanding ban on manipulating currencies to gain economic advantage. Weakening a currency can help a country's exporters, but can also end up dumping its troubles with business costs and competitiveness on its trade partners.
The gathering tomorrow and Saturday in the southern German resort town of Baden-Baden will help set the tone for international commerce and finance and will give Mnuchin a chance to clarify what the US position is.
The focus will be on the final statement issued jointly by the finance ministers on Saturday.
Last year's gathering of the Group of 20 finance ministers in Chengdu, China, issued a statement opposing "all forms of protectionism." This time, such unequivocal language could be softened to refer to trade that is "open" and "fair," without the absolute opposition to import restrictions to benefit domestic workers.
Trump has repeatedly emphasized that the US needs a tougher approach to trade that would put American workers and companies first. He has already pulled the US out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries and he has started the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, both of whom are G-20 members.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)