Treasury chief in Germany says US not seeking 'trade wars'

Newly-installed US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to Washington after a career in the private sector that took him from Wall Street to Hollywood

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on the eve of his maiden outing with the G20, insisted on Thursday that Washington had no desire to have "trade wars" with other economic powers. Mnuchin said US President Donald Trump's administration would keep a close eye on the levels of key global currencies, but pursue policies in the interest of "economic growth that is good for the US and the rest of the world". "It is not our desire to enter into trade wars," he said after talks with Germany's powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble. Their talks came on the eve of a ministerial meeting of the Group of 20, gathering the 20 biggest developed and developing economies, in the west German spa town of Baden-Baden. "Our desire is that… when there is imbalances in trading relationships that we have a need to address that," Mnuchin said. Schaeuble described the talks in Berlin as "friendly and constructive", calling it a "good beginning" ahead of the G20 gathering. He admitted that Berlin and Washington did "not have consensus" on all points. "We won't be able to solve all problems in Baden-Baden but we have a clear, mutual position, that we want to solve all problems together," he said. "Sustainable growth and prosperity need global solutions. We established a good foundation on which to solve problems." Germany, which holds the G20 presidency this year, is concerned Trump could upend the global economic order with his "America First" policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold her first meeting with the new US leader in Washington Friday. Trump has already torn up the trans-Pacific free trade pact, threatened punitive tariffs against multinationals with factories outside the United States and attacked "currency manipulation" by export giant China. White House economic advisor Peter Navarro in January accused Germany and China of taking advantage of weak currencies to build a trade surplus with the United States. A statement is produced at the end of the two-day G20 meeting that has in past sessions consistently committed signatories to rejecting protectionism and refraining from competitive currency devaluations. But fears are running high that this year's communique may have to sidestep the issue.

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