Mnuchin: US partners more comfortable with Trump on trade

The call was made in a statement issued at end of the two-day summit of G-7 foreign ministers in Bari, Italy today.

"Frankly no, we discussed it but we don't know anything", Visco said.

Other ministers from the G7 countries made it clear they did not share his view.

A senior source from another of the participating countries added: "We are not anticipating being any clearer about what the United States administration is planning in terms of trade".

Mr Mnuchin said he believed his counterparts from other countries were becoming more comfortable with the new administration "now they have spent time with me and have listened to the president and listen to what the message on what the economic agenda is".

"Our approach is for more balanced trade, and people have heard that", Mnuchin told reporters.

Federal reserve Chair Janet Yellen arrives for the opening session of the G7 of Finance ministers in Bari, southern Italy, Friday, May 12, 2017.

The head of International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has previously said that one of the biggest risks facing the global economy is "the sword of protectionism hanging over global trade".

Mnuchin said preliminary discussions have begun with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA, a topic that came up for discussion during his one-on-one meeting with Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

US companies now pay tax on income earned outside the country, as well as within, and USA based multi-national corporations say that puts them at a disadvantage with foreign competitors.

European officials complained that the USA meaning of "fair trade" remained unclear and that the only way to establish fairness was to abide by the multilateral framework developed by the World Trade Organization.

Later, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said he and other ministers told Mnuchin not to weaken global policies that had been put together painstakingly over years and had helped the world economy recover from the financial crisis that broke almost a decade ago.

They'll also look for ways to promote growth and combat terrorist financing and tax avoidance by major corporations. The US government sees domestic growth objectives in each as crucial for achieving significant improvements in global economy, but the rest of the G7 seems to think otherwise, seeing global trade as key source of growth.

"We need a strong United States, the United States needs the global economy and global economics on a sustainable way where the United States is still the most important political and economic partner and the best alliance for Europe", Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German Finance Minister, said.

Still, a final agreement issued by G7 ministers on Saturday said officials were "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies" - a far weaker pledge than last year's statement from the Group of 20 leaders to disavow any signs of protectionism.

Despite Mnuchin's remarks, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso expressed hope that the G-7 leaders, including Trump, will narrow the group's gap on trade when they gather in Taormina, Sicily, on May 26 to 27.

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