U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the gathering of the financial leaders of the world's 20 largest economies in Buenos Aires that he was renewing President Donald Trump's proposal that G7 allies drop trade barriers between them. "It has to be all three issues".
Mnuchin will try to rally G7 allies over the weekend to join the United States in more aggressive action against China, but they may be reluctant to co-operate because of USA tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union and Canada, which prompted retaliatory measures.
Trump, who frequently criticizes Europe's 10 percent vehicle tariffs, is also studying adding a 25 percent levy on automotive imports, which would hit both Europe and Japan hard.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the European Union would not consider launching trade talks with the United States unless Trump first withdraws the steel and aluminum tariffs and stands down on a vehicle tariff threat.
Long-simmering trade tensions have burst into the open in recent months, with the United States and China - the world's No. 2 economy - slapping tariffs on $34 billion U.S. worth of each other's goods so far.
In a briefing note prepared for the G20 participants, the International Monetary Fund said if all of Trump's threatened tariffs - and equal retaliation - went into effect, the global economy could lose up to 0.5 percent of GDP, or $430 billion, by 2020.
Mnuchin is not meeting formally with any Chinese officials at the G20 meeting, but said that was because his normal counterpart, top Chinese economic adviser Liu He, is not attending.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned world economic leaders on Saturday that a recent wave of trade tariffs would significantly harm global growth, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened a major escalation in his dispute with China.
Global growth also may have peaked at 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019, and downside risks have risen due to the tariff spat, the International Monetary Fund said.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde presented the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Buenos Aires with a report warning that existing trade restrictions would reduce global output by 0.5 percent.
Lagarde's presentation came shortly after Mnuchin said there was no "macro" effect yet on the USA economy.
The weekend meeting in Buenos Aires comes amid a dramatic escalation in rhetoric on both sides.
Trump's metals tariffs prompted trade partners to retaliate with their own tariffs on USA goods ranging from whiskey to motorcycles.
At the close of the last G20 meeting in Argentina in March, the financial leaders representing 75 percent of world trade and 85 percent of gross domestic product released a joint statement that rejected protectionism and urged "further dialogue", to little concrete effect.
He said the final communique would reflect the need for members, particularly in emerging markets that have been roiled by currency weakness, to undertake reforms to protect themselves against volatility. The U.S. and China have slapped tariffs on $34 billion United States worth of each other's goods so far.
The EU finance ministers signed a joint text last week that will form their mandate for this weekend's meeting, criticizing " unilateral" US trade actions, Reuters reported.
"I don't expect tangible progress to be made at this meeting", Scholz told reporters on the plane to Buenos Aires.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he hoped the debate at the G20 gathering would lead to an easing of retaliatory trade measures. The United States has said it will challenge those tariffs at the World Trade Organization. "I think restraint will eventually take hold".