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Mnuchin, Schäuble talk trade in Berlin

At talks in Berlin ahead of a G20 finance ministers' meeting in Germany, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his US counterpart, Steven Mnuchin, debated a broad range of trade issues as disparities remained.

Schäuble and Mnuchin on Thursday agreed in Berlin that international cooperation had to be supported to foster fair trade among nations. The German finance minister and the US treasury secretary signaled their willingness to work together and seek solutions to issues on which the two did not currently see eye to eye.

Mnuchin emphasized that in general, trade agreements needed to be fairer and more balanced. He indicated that some aspects of trade between Germany and the US would need to be re-examined to ensure adequate economic growth on both sides.

He stressed that "imbalances have to be dealt with," most likely alluding to Germany's grave trade surplus that had long been a thorn in the eye of US President Donald Trump.

Schäuble for his part promised he would ask experts what he as finance minister could do to whittle down that huge surplus in trade with the US.

Friendly, but vague

The German finance minister called his talks with Mnuchin "friendly and constructive." 

"We found a good basis to work together," Schäuble said at a joint news conference, but added that not all problems at hand would be solved at an upcoming meeting of G20 finance ministers.

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A bone of contention has been allegations that Germany and other eurozone nations have taken measures to artificially keep their euro currency low so as to make European products cheaper and more competitive on global markets, including North America.

Summing up their meeting in Berlin, Mnuchin said the Trump administration did "not have any desire to get into trade wars." He pledged the US and Germany would do everything in their power to crank up global growth.

Asked about possible higher tariffs on imports that could also harm German shipments to the US, Mnuchin said there was no clarity yet about exactly what measures would be taken in Washington to address current imbalances.

hg/sri (Reuters, dpa, AP)

 

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