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France “regrets” inconclusive G20 talks on trade, climate

media G20 ministers gather in Baden Baden, Germany on March 17, 2017. Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Finance ministers from the world’s 20 biggest economies, gathered in Baden Baden, Germany, dropped vows to fight climate change and anti-protectionism on Saturday.

After a two-day meeting, G20 ministers have not condemned protectionism in its closing statement, although they said they were “working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies”.

The omission came as the US delegation refused to sign off on an anti-protectionist pledge. The move is part of President Donald Trump’s larger strategy of pursuing an “America First” agenda. The stance, which has sparked alarm among Washington's trading partners, has so far consisted of withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

However, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said that his country does not favour the trade policies espoused by Trump, such as raising tariffs on imported goods.

The minister added that France “rejects all unilateral protectionist measures”.

Calls to action to fight climate change, as referenced under the 2015 Paris accord, were also omitted from the statement. These calls, however, had been included in the statement from last year's China-led summit.

This decision again lines up with the agenda put forth by Trump, who has suggested cutting federal funding to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by a third, and eliminating financial contributions to UN climate change programmes.

"I regret that our discussions today were unable to reach a satisfying conclusion on two absolutely essential priorities that our world and which France would have liked to see the G20 continue to take firm and concerted action on," Sapin said.

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