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Treasury's Mnuchin says U.S. tariffs 'not about protectionism'

BUENOS AIRES, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that U.S. tariff actions are "not about protectionism" but about defending American interests against unfair trade practices.

Mnuchin told a news conference at the end of a trade-dominated meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors here that President Donald Trump was not afraid of a trade war but starting one was not his administration's goal.

"We need to be prepared to act in the U.S. interest, again, to defend free and fair, reciprocal trade," Mnuchin said, adding there was a risk that other countries would "reciprocate" with tariffs of their own. (Reporting by David Lawder Editing by Paul Simao)