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G20 finance ministers defend multilateral trading system
【2018-03-22】

Trade protectionism was the main topic discussed by finance ministers and central bank governors at the Group of 20 (G20) ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires which came to a close on Tuesday.

"The importance of international trade has been reaffirmed and we ratified that we must continue dialogue," said Argentina's Finance Minister Nicolas Dujovne.

Argentina Central Bank President Federico Sturzenegger added that "there is an understanding that trade is good ... we must deepen agreements so all may win."

The representatives voiced their rejection to the recently introduced US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as well as other protectionist measures.

The G20 meetings typically concluded with a joint statement, known as a communique which reflects shared values and goals.

The joint statement of the meeting defended multilateral trading system by saying "international trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development."

Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of Spain, Roman Escolano, told the press that "protectionism was discussed and the participants think it is a great historical mistake."

The joint statement also said that "the global financial system must remain open, resilient and supportive of growth and grounded in agreed international standards."

"We will continue to closely monitor and, if necessary, address emerging risks and vulnerabilities in the financial system," it said.

The ministers also dwelt on the need to bring cryptocurrencies under sharper regulation. They acknowledged the technological innovation "has the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system more broadly."

However, they pointed out the risks, saying that "Crypto-assets ... raise issues with respect to consumer and investor protection, market integrity, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing ... we call on international standard-setting bodies to continue their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks."

With the presence of 57 delegations from countries and institutions, this is the first of five such meetings to be held before Argentina hosts the G20 summit from Nov 30 to Dec 1.

The second meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will be held in Washington on April 20 before returning to the Argentinean capital on July 21.