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Relief from Trump tariffs major talking point at G20, AP sources say

Several Latin American countries have reached out to the US president in the hopes of gaining an exemption. Dujovne spoke with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday.

Monday 19 March, 2018
Finance ministers and central bank governors pose for a group photo at the end of the first day of G20 talks in Buenos Aires on Monday.
Finance ministers and central bank governors pose for a group photo at the end of the first day of G20 talks in Buenos Aires on Monday. Foto:G20 Argentina

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Concern over the effect of US steel and aluminium tariffs was not officially addressed on the first day of a major G20 meeting of world financial leaders, but officials told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity that US President Donald Trump's decision has been a major talking point in private sessions.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the international forum's member states are meeting in Buenos Aires at a summit that has been eclipsed by growing concerns over the potential of a global trade war following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to slap import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Trump's tariffs — of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium imports — enter into force this week.

Argentina's Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne asked US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday to exempt the South American country from the tariffs. Trump is temporarily exempting Canada and Mexico.

Other Latin American countries have also reached out to Trump for exemptions, and the European Union's top trade official said Monday that the EU should be excluded as a whole. 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 with tit-for-tat tariff boosts that would harm exporting nations as well as raising prices for consumers in importing nations.

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.

At a news conference on Monday, Dujovne and OECD Secretary-General José Ángel Gurría presented a report, but they declined to take questions.

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 Nov. 30-Dec 1.

Officials are also discussing issues including infrastructure development and the technology behind cryptocurrencies during the two-day meeting.

The Trump administration has banned all use by Americans of Venezuelan cryptocurrency, saying that its introduction is intended to skirt U.S. sanctions. Venezuelan last month announced a cryptocurrency known as the "petro," for which the government says it has received investment commitments of $5 billion.

-TIMES/AP

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