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Mnuchin is in favor of open trade, Schaeuble says, despite Trump's 'America First' agenda

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2017.
Fabrizio Bensch | Reuters

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told CNBC on Friday U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in favor of open trade policies, as he attempted to ease tensions after recent sparring between the two economic powerhouses.

"(Mnuchin) is supportive of open markets and open world trade and with this I believe that some things that appear as concerns now will decrease over time... but there is still some work to do," Schaeuble said on Friday, according to a translation.

The U.S. and Germany have come to blows over both trade policy and the euro's exchange rate since U.S. President Donald Trump's administration took office in January. Trump's "America first" agenda and protectionist rhetoric had increased concern globally regarding the trade relationships between the world's largest economy and other nations.

Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, previously accused Germany of using a "grossly undervalued" euro in order to gain advantage over the U.S. and its own European Union partners.

German leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have since rejected the claims and stressed the country has no say over the single currency's valuation.

In relation to Berlin, Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday he had listened to Schaeuble's argument that Germany's export surplus was as a consequence of the European Central Bank setting the interest rates for all 19 euro area countries.

"I had a very good impression of my meeting with him yesterday," Schaeuble added, shortly after speaking with the U.S. Treasury Secretary at a G20 event in the spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany.

"We talked for a few hours in a very open and trustful way but that doesn't mean that after such a first talk we can already solve all the problems in the world."