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G20 in Standoff over Trade Policy

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German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stressed their common ground during a meeting in Berlin Thursday. AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Members of the G20 group of leading economic powers are in a dispute over trade policy ahead of the bloc’s meeting of finance ministers in the German town of Baden-Baden later this week, Handelsblatt has learned from sources in participating countries.

Several G20 country representatives demanded on Wednesday that a commitment to free trade should be included in the final statement by the finance ministers, who will meet on Friday. The states taking the lead include France, Brazil and Singapore, among others.

The U.S. government, especially, has refused to include a clear rejection of protectionism in the statement, the sources said, and is reportedly moving forward with plans for imposing possible import tariffs on certain goods by the summer.

The trade differences were largely papered over during a press conference Thursday evening between German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who was in Berlin before heading to Baden-Baden for Friday.

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