March 19, 2017 1:54 am JST

G-20 finance chiefs drop wording on protectionism, keep currency pledges

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble addresses a news conference at the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany on March 18. © Reuters

BADEN-BADEN, Germany (Kyodo) -- Financial chiefs of the Group of 20 nations on Saturday dropped the phrase they would "resist all forms of protectionism" from a joint statement released after their two-day meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany.

 The G-20 representatives said they maintained existing pledges on currencies, saying that they will refrain from "competitive devaluations" and targeting foreign exchange rates for competitive purposes.

 "We reiterate that excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability," the statement said.

 Trade and currencies have been the two main themes of the G-20 finance chiefs' meeting, the first since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January. The Trump administration has pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal and pledged to push an "America First" agenda.

 After scrambling to reach agreement, the G-20 representatives said they are "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies."

 During the first day of the gathering in Baden-Baden, Germany, several major countries expressed opposition to reneging on the G-20 stance to promote free trade.

 On currencies, the earlier version of the draft communique circulated by Germany only stated that the G-20 reaffirmed its previous exchange rate commitments. Other currency-related agreements were included as requested strongly by Japan and the United States, a G-20 source said.

 Japan sought to clarify the G-20 shared the view that foreign exchange intervention is justified to stem excess volatility, while the United States wants to prevent such countries as China and Japan from manipulating currency moves, the source said.

 The statement said "downside risks for the global economy remain," adding that the G-20 finance ministers and central bankers are determined "to use all policy tools -- monetary, fiscal, and structural --individually and collectively to achieve our goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth."

 The gathering discussed a range of topics from tepid economic growth, trade and currency policy, to investments in Africa.

 The G-20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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