G7 finance chiefs warn U.S. not to upset global growth

Fri May 12, 2017 1:42pm EDT
 
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By William Schomberg and Gavin Jones

BARI, Italy (Reuters) - Finance chiefs from many of the world's leading rich nations pressed the United States on Friday not to break a decades-long global consensus in areas such as trade and financial regulation criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Inequality, international tax rules and cyber security headed the official agenda for Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers who kicked off a two-day meeting in the southern Italian port city of Bari.

But Trump's threats to end a multilateral approach to policies from trade to climate change dominated discussions inside the walls of a 12th century Norman castle.

"We need a strong United States to lead the global economy and global politics in a sustainable way," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble when asked his message for U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Later, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said he and other ministers told Mnuchin not to weaken global policies that had been put together painstakingly over years and had helped the world economy recover from the financial crisis that broke nearly a decade ago.

"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," said Sapin, who is likely to lose his job soon following Emmanuel Macron's election as president this month.

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 U.S. Treasury official said.   Continued...

 
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin waves during the G7 for Financial ministers meeting in the southern Italian city of Bari, Italy May 12, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi