By Scott Squires and Luc Cohen
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Agriculture ministers from the G20 countries said on Saturday they were concerned about the increasing use of protectionist non-tariff trade measures inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
The ministers from countries including the United States and China, in Buenos Aires for the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers, said in a joint statement they had affirmed their commitment not to adopt “unnecessary obstacles” to trade, and affirmed their rights and obligations under WTO agreements.
The meeting came amid rising trade tensions that have rocked agricultural markets. China and other top U.S. trade partners have placed retaliatory tariffs on American farmers after the Trump administration put duties on Chinese goods as well as steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Last week, the Trump administration said it would pay up to $12 billion to help U.S. farmers weather the trade war. President Donald Trump and the chief of the European Commission struck a surprise deal on Wednesday that ended the risk of an immediate trade war between the two powers.
The ministers did not specify which measures they were referring to in the statement.
“Recognizing the important role of the WTO, we agree to continue the reform process of agricultural trade rules,” the ministers of the G20, who together make up 60 percent of the world’s agricultural land and 80 percent of food and agricultural commodities, wrote in the statement.
After the meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Trump said the European Union would buy “a lot” of U.S. soybeans.
German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner told Reuters that the trade relationship between the United States and the European Union was improving, but there was no guarantee the body would import the quantity of soybeans that Washington expects.
(Reporting by Scott Squires and Luc Cohen; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis)