U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the Trump administration has no desire to get into trade wars, but certain trade relationships need to be re-examined to make them fairer for U.S. workers.
At a news conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Mnuchin said that President Donald Trump recognizes the importance of trade for economic growth, but wanted it to benefit more U.S. workers and companies.
“It is not our desire to get into trade wars,” Mnuchin said. “The president does believe in free trade but he wants free and fair trade.”
The two finance ministers met for the first time ahead of a weekend meeting of top Group of 20 finance officials in Baden-Baden, Germany, amid worries about a pivot by the Trump administration towards greater trade protectionism.
Both ministers said the dialog was constructive, and said they would work together through differences to promote growth and prosperity.
“It was a good start,” Schaeuble said of the meeting, adding that it was a positive sign for international cooperation and the G20 process, which Germany is hosting this year.
“We have found a good basis to talk openly about issues where we don’t have the same stance from the outset,” Schaeuble said.
Mnuchin also reiterated his view that a strengthening dollar was good for the long run, but declined to comment on short term movements in the dollar. In recent weeks, he has said that short-term dollar spikes can be negative for the U.S. economy.
He said he was focused on maintaining the dollar’s reserve currency status.
“I believe that in the long-term best interests, the strengthening of the dollar is a good thing and I think that the long term strengthening of the dollar is a sign of confidence in the reserve currency,” he said.
Mnuchin declined to comment on the specific value of the euro, but said he recognized that many factors and countries influence its value. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro last month roiled markets when he said that Germany had unfairly benefited from an undervalued euro.