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G-20 finance chiefs share concerns over escalating trade friction

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso (C) chats with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde (R), alongside Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, after the first day of the Group of 20 finance chiefs meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 21, 2018. (Kyodo)

BUENOS AIRES (Kyodo) -- Finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies shared their concerns Saturday over escalating global trade friction stemming from U.S. protectionist measures as they met in Buenos Aires for a two-day meeting.

Following Saturday's session, a Japanese government source said such concerns were expressed by most participants, while Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said he criticized the United States at the meeting for its recent spate of moves to increase tariffs on a broad range of imports.

"Inward-looking policies would benefit no country," Aso told his G-20 counterparts, according to the minister. He also called for maintaining economic growth through "trade based on free and fair rules."

Washington should not impose tariffs for the sake of eliminating its trade deficit, but should use macroeconomic policy, Aso told reporters.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, left, and Japan's Minister of Finance Taro Aso, chat after posing for a group picture at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, July 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

New tariffs imposed by Washington on its largest trade partners and retaliatory measures by China, the European Union and Canada have shaken financial markets and raised the specter of reduced global growth.

G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors are expected to issue a joint statement following their meeting on Sunday in Argentina's capital. In their March conference, they recognized the "need for further dialogue and actions" on trade issues.

U.S. President Donald Trump came under fire at last month's Group of Seven summit over the new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, primarily targeting China but also affecting allies such as the European Union, Canada and Japan.

He has since invoked further tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, leading Beijing to retaliate in kind, and threatened to slap tariffs on another $200 billion.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has no plans to hold bilateral talks with Chinese counterparts on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting, a U.S. official said this week.

Japan has so far refrained from hitting back against the new U.S. metal tariffs. But the export-reliant country would be hit hard by possible levies on foreign automobiles.

Aso demanded at the G-20 meeting that China increase the transparency of its currency policies amid the yuan's recent decline, he told reporters. The Chinese side denied at the meeting that Beijing has deliberately guided the currency lower.

The Japanese finance minister also said G-20 financial leaders confirmed the need to pay attention to the risk that normalizing monetary policies in the United States and Europe will induce a capital outflow from emerging economies.

Aso is set to hold bilateral talks with Mnuchin on Sunday morning.

The G-20 finance chiefs were also expected to discuss infrastructure finance, terrorism financing and digital tax, a Japanese official said ahead of the meeting.

The G-20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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