According to a report by the AFR, Treasurer Scott Morrison has claimed credit for preserving support for global trade among the world’s top finance ministers in what it describes as “a rear-guard action” against US President Donald Trump’s successful push to eliminate explicit condemnation of protectionism.
In a blow to the credibility of the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Germany over the weekend, they ceded ground to the Trump administration’s “America First” approach to global affairs. The G20 has acted as a bulwark since the global financial crisis against currency manipulation, tariff wars and other forms of anti-trade behaviour.
The lack of an explicit rejection of protectionism at the meeting, unlike in previous communiques, has been criticised by members such as France and Germany, whose finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, lamented that the fight against protectionism “means different things” to different countries.
It is understood that an intervention led by Mr Morrison with strong support from his Canadian counterpart helped avoid the final G20 communique being watered down even further.
“I was pleased to see the support for trade in the G20 communique,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on Sunday. “We now need to keep on with our pro-growth policies. That is the only way to secure jobs, boost wages and lift living standards,” Mr Morrison was reported to have said.
Mr Morrison, had mentioned to the AFR that he would take no part in any weakening of the G20’s pro-trade stance, spearheaded the inclusion of a form of words that both the United States and European finance ministers could accept, sources said.
In an interview during the meeting, as doubts spread that trade might not be mentioned at all, Mr Morrison said its absence “would not reflect well on what we are doing here, and I don’t think it would reflect the will of the economies that have gathered here”.