Sat | Apr 20, 2019

G-20 meeting in Argentina eclipsed by potential trade war

Published:Tuesday | March 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Finance ministers and central bankers from the 20 leading industrial and developing countries are meeting in Argentina at a summit that has been eclipsed by growing concerns over the potential of a global trade war following US President Donald Trump's decision to slap import tariffs on steel and aluminum.

G-20 officials are also discussing issues including infrastructure development and the technology behind cryptocurrencies during the two-day meeting that began Monday in the Argentine capital.

The Trump administration has banned all use by Americans of Venezuelan cryptocurrency, saying that its introduction is intended to skirt US sanctions. The move follows the introduction last month of a Venezuelan cryptocurrency known as the 'petro', for which the government says it has received investment commit-ments of $5 billion.

Trump's tariffs - of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports - enter into force this week. The European Union's top trade official said on Monday that the EU should be excluded as a whole from the tariffs. The EU has already published a list of American products it plans to tax if it is not exempted.

The tariffs and the EU threat to retaliate with counter measures have escalated the risk of a trade war, in which nations try to punish each other by hiking taxes on goods. Experts say that tends to harm both exporting nations as well as importing countries' consumers, who face higher costs.

The EU considers itself to be caught in the crossfire of a dispute which is actually intended to punish China for being unfair in its commercial deals.

The summit in Buenos Aires is the first of five meetings by finance ministers and central bankers scheduled in advance of a main G-20 meeting in Argentina that will be held November 30 to December 1.