Steven Mnuchin Treasury chief in Germany says United States not seeking 'trade wars'

"It is not our desire to enter into trade wars", he said after talks with Germany's powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble.

European stocks moved slightly lower Friday, but hovered around their highest levels in more than a year, with investors turning attention to the meeting of Group of 20 finance officials in Germany.

In a thinly disguised broadside at the new USA administration, which has signalled it intends to roll back Wall Street regulation, Mr Schaeuble said: "I'm fully aware that many of you in the room are not fans of regulation".

Mr Schaeuble will meet his United States counterpart, Steve Mnuchin, later on Thursday, and on Friday, he will hold discussions with leading finance ministers in Baden Baden at the first G20 meeting of 2017. "It is not our desire to get into trade wars, it is our desire to deal with where there is imbalance in certain trade relations".

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Germany, which hosts the G20 presidency this year, was rebuffed in its attempts to forge a compromise on the wording of a statement about the global economy that reflects the rules-led system under the World Trade Organization, and the focus on "fairness" that the new US spirit has brought with it.

The latest draft of the communique, for now, makes no reference to trade and protectionism issues, breaking with a decade-old tradition of G20 communiques which have, over the years, used various formulations to endorse free trade and reject protectionism.

While stewarding currency policy has traditionally been the job of the Treasury secretary, comments from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trump's top trade adviser, and the president himself have left the world to wonder who is really driving that policy.

"We both believe it is important for the U.S.to play an essential leadership role towards global economic growth", he said sitting next to Schaeuble. Possible replacements include support for "fairness".

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European countries and others that depend on exports, such as China, were said to be pushing for a stronger statement in favor of trade with fewer tariffs and other barriers in a rule-based system.

Mnuchin is scheduled to meet one-to-one with China's Finance Minister Xiao Jie and central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan.

Trump has repeatedly emphasized that the USA needs a tougher approach to trade that would put American workers and companies first.

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