The schism in global trade relations was laid bare at a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Argentina over the weekend, who warned that increasing trade tensions risk undermining the global economy.

Bruno Le Maire (pictured), the French finance minister, said the EU would not negotiate trade with the US “with a gun to our head”, referring to the more aggressive trade stance taken by the Trump administration, including imposing tariffs on European steel and aluminium. 

Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, made clear his willingness to sign free-trade deals, while insisting that European retaliatory tariffs on specific products such as Bourbon whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles were not hurting the US economy. 

On Friday, fresh concerns about the prospect of a global trade war unsettled financial markets after Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on all Chinese imports to the US — hard on the heels of his criticism on Thursday of the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate rises.

In New York, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 per cent, leaving it barely changed on the week, while the Nasdaq Composite index also edged down 0.1 per cent on Friday. Futures tipped the Topix to fall 0.6 per cent but the Hang Seng to gain 0.3 per cent when trading starts on Monday. 

The economic calendar for Monday (all times Hong Kong): 

  • 13.00: Singapore consumer price index 
  • 16.00: Taiwan industrial production, unemployment rate 
  • 16.30: Hong Kong CPI 
  • Macau visitor arrival statistics and South Korean export data also slated for release on Monday.

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