Australian treasurer to take clear anti-protectionism message to G20 meeting

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Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called for an “amicable” resolution to global trade tensions ahead of a key G20 meeting in Indonesia.

Frydenberg, who will meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Bali starting Thursday, said that he will take a clear anti-protectionist message to the meeting.

His comments come the day after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded the Australian economy and warned that Australia was about to be caught in the crossfire of trade tensions.

“In talks with my international counterparts this week, I’ll be sending a very clear message that free trade equals more jobs, free trade equals more investment and free trade means higher economic growth.”

The IMF on Monday projected that Australia’s economy would grow by 2.8 percent in financial year 2018-19, down from 3.2 percent in 2017-18.

“The downward revisions to the 2019 growth forecast for Australia … partially reflect the negative effect of the recently introduced trade measures,” the fund said in its global outlook, which was highly critical of the economic strategy of Washington.

“With protectionist rhetoric increasingly turned into action with the United States imposing tariffs on a wide range of imports and retaliatory actions by trading partners, escalation of trade tensions to an intensity that carries systemic risk is a distinct possibility without policy co-operation,” the outlook report said.

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