G20 financial chiefs agree open trade is key to growth - Schaeuble

"I regret nevertheless that our discussions today were not able to reach a satisfactory conclusion on two priorities that are absolutely essential in today's world", he said in a statement. "I couldn't be happier with the outcome", Sec.

Speaking about the viewpoint of the US, Canada's finance minister Bill Morneau said "My view is that the Americans were doing what any new administration would do - they were looking at the language through their lens".

The world's top economic powers have dropped a pledge to fully oppose trade protectionism amid pushback from the US government of President Donald Trump, who wants to favor American companies and workers more.Finance ministers at a Group of 20 meeting in Germany issued a statement Saturday that said only that countries "are working to strengthen the contribution of trade" to their economies.

Merkel said globalization and free trade could be fairer but both had worked for Germany.

"We believe in free trade", he said, adding however that "balanced trade needs to be what's good for us and what's good for other people, a win-win situation".

"Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements", Mnuchin said, adding that NAFTA would have to be reviewed, some WTO rules needed to be better enforced and older agreements may have to be renegotiated. This more casual meeting of finance ministers will be followed by a formal gathering of national leaders in Hamburg, Germany, in July.

The exclusion of the two issues in the communique was disappointing, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

Conspicuous by its absence was the phrase "we will resist all forms of protectionism" that was contained in the communique from the last meeting of the group in China in July 2016.

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Wolfgang Schaeuble, the finance minister of host country Germany, argued that it was not true that officials failed to find common ground. "But it wasn't clear what one or another meant by that", he said.

"What is relevant is what we agreed as a group: to strengthen the contributions of trade to our economies and we will strive to reduce excess global imbalances to promote inclusiveness and fairness and reduce inequality".

Others suggested that the G20 leaders' meeting in Hamburg this July could be the real opportunity to bring the USA on board. "We need it. It is the raison d'etre for the G20", Moscovici said.

The communique also dropped a reference, used by the G20 previous year, on the readiness to finance measures against climate change as agreed in Paris in 2015, because of opposition from the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Trump has suggested global warming was a "hoax" concocted by China to hurt United States industry and vowed to scrap the Paris climate accord aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Since taking office, Trump has withdrawn the United States from a trans-Pacific free trade pact and attacked export giants China and Germany over their massive trade surplus.

Trump's administration on Thursday proposed a 31 per cent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget as the White House seeks to eliminate climate change programmes and trim initiatives to protect air and water quality.

Leaders also upheld their commitments to financial sector regulation, supporting the finalisation of bank rules known as Basel III, provided they do not significantly raise overall capital requirements.

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