BERLIN, March 16 (Reuters) - The protectionist stance of the new U.S. administration could complicate G20 talks this week and force policymakers to leave out the disputed trade issue, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.
Speaking to Reuters ahead of the G20 gathering of finance ministers and central bankers in the German town of Baden-Baden on Friday and Saturday, Schaeuble said it was still unclear if the G20 would keep joint language supporting free trade and open markets.
“There are differing views on this subject,” Schaeuble said, pointing to protectionist comments by U.S. President Donald Trump and other senior government officials.
“It’s possible that we explicitly exclude the topic of trade in Baden-Baden and say that can only be resolved at the summit of the state and government leaders.”
An early draft communique for the G20 meeting had suggested that the world’s financial leaders might no longer explicitly reject protectionism, breaking with a decade-old tradition.
“This is not the ideal solution, but it would not be such a big deal,” Schaeuble said about the possibility that the G20 members might fail to reach an agreement on trade.
The final communique of Baden-Baden should send the message that international cooperation is still robust in times of growing geopolitical risks, Schaeuble said. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Toby Chopra)