“The U.S. seems to be emphasizing ‘we retain full right to take unilateral action,”’ said Thomas Bernes, a former International Monetary Fund and World Bank official who is now a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, in Waterloo, Canada. “They’ve stepped aside from a system which they helped largely to create and it’s a little bit rudderless now.”
The last global summit, the G-7’s meeting in May, saw huge divisions over climate and trade and this meeting was no different. Leaders are concerned about a potential trade war over steel as Trump gears up for a decision on whether to impose punitive tariffs amid ongoing complaints about dumping on global markets.
The final G-20 statement pledged renewed efforts to combat excess capacity in the steel industry, while referring to the use of “trade defense instruments.” Thus, despite some compromises, the U.S. still has a mechanism at hand to declare a trade war at any time.