G-20 leaders hit impasse over trade

Chief financial leaders from 20 major economies came together for the G-20 meeting on March 19 in Baden-Baden, Germany. The leaders of the major economic powers struggled to come to a consensus over the weekend-long congregation.

Despite finding common ground on foreign exchange, the Group of 20 failed to advance further talks on global trade. Ordinarily, during G-20 gatherings, leaders uphold the notion of free trade and reject protectionist policies. In addition, the officials retracted their stance on protectionism and vow to resist all forms of it.

The G-20 summit, originally established in 1999, consists of financial world leaders in 20 major countries coming together to discuss and create economic policy to achieve international financial stability. According to G20.org, “The G20 countries account for more than four-fifths of gross world product and three-quarters of global trade, and are home to almost two-thirds of the world’s population.”

While several countries participate in and comprise the G-20, it also contains a multitude of international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the World Bank. Traditionally, meetings often circulate around the theme of global economic growth and international trade. A couple of the major goals are to boost worldwide trade and diminish international unemployment rates.

At the most recent meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that while President Donald Trump has expressed dismay at engaging in certain vessels of international trade, these conflicts must be re-examined for the sake of U.S. employees.

The United States and Europe reached an impasse when the topic of trade fluidity and regulation rose. Under the current administration, the United States backed Trump’s ideals and advocated on behalf of free and fair international trade, with caveats such as open interpretation of the word “free” in place.

Meanwhile, Europe argued against this notion, citing its vagueness as well as declaring its preference to abide by an international set of rules set by the World Trade Organization. Therefore, any ruling on trans-Atlantic trade between the United States and the European Union has stalled.

As of press time, officials anticipate leaving out the topic of trade in the communique in order to prevent conflict from arising. Many countries argued against leaving out trade and cited it as a relevant and vital point of discussion, since global GDP output depends heavily on international trade.

At the last G-20 summit in July 2016, officials pushed countries to honor their financial pledges made during the Paris Agreement under former President Barack Obama’s second term. This year, however, officials at the summit placed less stress on financially backing the worldwide fight against global warming and climate change. Due in part to Trump’s criticism of the validity of global warming, several countries have voted to postpone discussion of this issue until the next meeting.

“Although the G-20’s commitments aren’t binding, the promises made member countries lend the group power through diplomatic peer pressure. Past U.S. administrations believe, for example, the G-20 was effective in prodding China to appreciate its exchange rate and nudging the European Union to build a better financial firewall against sovereign-debt risks,” “The Wall Street Journal” writes.

Despite the array of disagreement, the G-20 countries have pledged to dismantle “cyber attacks on the global banking system,” according to an article published on “Reuters”. A few days before the summit, the United States accused two Russian intelligence agents of hacking and stealing information from 500 million Yahoo accounts. Cyber-attacks also became a point of concern after an unanticipated breach at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York evolved into a major heist on the Bangladesh central bank’s account.

G-20 countries addressed this topic fervently, citing a need to expose and patch up the flaws in the banking industry.