Top economies yield to US, drop no-protectionism pledge

Mnuchin said. "We need to make sure we bring unity to the global market".

Given the opposition from the United States and Saudi Arabia, the G20's communique also differed from its 2016 statement in that no reference was made to the members' readiness to finance the battle against climate change.

Commitments of support to the existing multilateral trade system, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), were also conspicuously missing from the final communique.

"We will strive to reduce excess global imbalances to promote inclusiveness and fairness and reduce inequality", he added, stressing that what Washington seeks is "free and fair trade" that is good for both Americans and the world.

"Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements", Mnuchin said, adding that NAFTA would have to be reviewed, some WTO rules needed to be better enforced and older agreements may have to be renegotiated. He has already pulled the USA out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries and he has started the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, both of whom are G-20 members.

Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie said his country would "unswervingly oppose trade protectionism".

Canada took a middle approach in the talks, urging a statement supporting free trade but not taking a position on specific wording.

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Financial leaders of the world's biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting failed to yield a compromise.

Mr Trump and other critics of free trade argue that it can cause jobs, such as in the labour-intensive manufacturing sector, to move to lower-cost countries. Proponents say technological advances, such as automation that replaces workers with robots, are more to blame for the loss of jobs in such sectors.

"The U.S. has been treated very unfairly over the years and that's going to stop", he said at a news conference. But they argue that trade restrictions will not help those left behind by the globalized economy and point to better training and education as part of the answer.

Since taking office, Trump has withdrawn the USA from a trans-Pacific free trade pact and attacked export giants China and Germany over their massive trade surpluses.

He has also started the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said the talks were long and frank.

Pressure from the USA meant they couldn't oppose economic protectionism. "But it wasn't clear what one or another meant by that", he said.

The G-20 is an informal forum on economic cooperation made up of 19 countries with more than 80 percent of the world economy, plus the European Union. This more casual meeting of finance ministers will be followed by a formal gathering of national leaders in Hamburg, Germany, in July.

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