Finance ministers from the G20, which comprises more than 80 percent of the global economy, debated the wording of their final joint statement on trade at their summit in the German resort of Baden-Baden. But Steven Mnuchin could not be moved.
However, he added that it was good for the U.S. as long as it was balanced.
Instead they chose to give some space to him and Trump's new administration to refine their trade views in the hopes for moderation by the time Germany hosts a G20 leader's summit in July.
"We believe in free trade, we're one of the largest markets in the world, we're one of the largest trading partners in the world", Mnuchin said.
At the G20 meeting, held last week in Germany, the convened governors and Ministers, which included South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago, "substantially backed" the G20 Compact with Africa for Resilience and Growth (CwA), a newly launched framework for regional economic and financial stability in Africa.
Group of 20 nations said in a communique on Saturday that they are "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".
"You make people come to you by laying out a strident position", Schmitt said, summing up the approach Trump has used for years in real estate and business. During his campaign, Trump threatened unilateral tariffs on Mexican and Chinese goods and said he would quit the North American Free Trade agreement unless it is renegotiated to his liking. Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which includes numerous world's wealthiest nations, said: "Let's see how the discussion moves".
It is the first meeting between Xiao and Mnuchin.
The delegation from Beijing were keen to build on president Xi Jinping's headline-grabbing speech in Davos, where the leader of the communist China made a robust defence of globalisation.
It was hoped that the efforts of Germany in particular, a major exporter, would temper U.S. intransigence, but in the words of German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, G20 members were unable "to force partners to go along with wording with which they don't agree".