March 19, 2018 / 6:27 PM / in 10 months

U.S. Treasury's Mnuchin at G20 emphasizes free trade, reciprocal terms: official

Argentina's Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne (L) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shake hands during a meeting ahead of the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 19, 2018. Argentine Finance Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is making clear the Trump administration’s emphasis on “free trade with reciprocal terms” at the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors’ meeting, a senior Treasury official here said.

“There’s no doubt that the secretary represents the president’s very strong view that we believe in free trade,” the official told reporters.

“But the environment we’re in now, where the expectation is America totally subordinates its national interests in order for the free trade system to work, is just one we don’t accept. So, we’ve been very clear, we believe in free trade with reciprocal terms that leads to more balanced trade relationships.”

The official said he could not immediately comment on the status of trade language in the G20 communique, where many ministers and central bankers have been pushing for a firm commitment to free trade and against protectionism.

The official said that while there was always a lot of emphasis on communique language, the important part for Mnuchin “is the dialogue that we have with our counterparts.”

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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