Global finance leaders meeting in Japan this weekend said they were increasingly worried that the trade dispute between the United States and China, which shows no signs of abating, could propel the world economy into a crisis.
The sense of gloom at the gathering of the Group of 20 major economies came amid increasing evidence that global economic growth is slowing amid President Trump’s renewed trade war with Beijing. In a closing statement, or communiqué, officials at the G-20 warned that trade tensions have “intensified” and agreed to address the risks.
But the Trump administration, intent on rewriting the rules of international commerce in America’s favor, gave no sign that it was ready to back down. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to blame China for prolonging the fight and insisted that the trade dispute was not hurting America’s economy or hampering global growth.
“I don’t think in any way that the slowdowns you’re seeing in parts of the world are a result of trade tensions at the moment,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20.
Mr. Trump is expected to meet with President Xi Jinping of China in late June, a critical encounter that could determine whether the world’s two largest economies can resolve their dispute. Talks between the two countries fell apart last month, with Mr. Trump accusing China of reneging on a trade deal and China insisting that the United States was not negotiating in good faith. Tensions have since increased as Mr. Trump raised tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatened to tax nearly all Chinese imports.
Beijing has responded with higher tariffs on American goods, and in a white paper released last Sunday, Chinese officials vowed to “never give in” on issues of principle. Mr. Trump will make a decision about the next round of tariffs after his meeting with Mr. Xi. “We are not far from a real and open trade war between China and the U.S.,” Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said in an interview on the sidelines of the gathering on Sunday. “I think all the G-20 people are aware that kind of situation would lead to an economic crisis, to a lack of growth and to a slowdown everywhere in the world.”