G20 finance ministers meeting; Merkel dials Trump; Russia’s getting a new S&P rating

These three things will change the world today.

1. G20 finance meeting kicks off

The first G20 finance meeting of the year begins today, and the first one since US president Donald Trump entered the White House.

Trump’s America First protectionist policy will be one of the main themes on the agenda today as the new president seeks to add border tax on imports. The G20 leaders have previously pledged to oppose protectionism on trade and investment.

Germany wants to encourage the G20 to sign up to a list of principles that would make economies more resilient to shocks.

According to Reuters, these would include sound public finances, reducing vulnerabilities in the private sector, a favourable business environment, a flexible labour market and efficient social security systems.

Tax avoidance by large corporate firms will also be discussed at the meeting. Ministers are set to push for the implementation of a scheme to deter the likes of Google, Starbucks from aggressive tax avoidance strategies.

Finally, the G20 is set to agree to work together to stop cyber espionage and prevent the hacking of banks and other financial intuitions.

2. Merkel and Trump will meet today

US president Donald Trump will host Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House today. They were set to meet on Tuesday but this was postponed due to extreme weather in Washington.

The purpose of the meeting is so that the two leaders can discuss the G20 economic summit that will take place in Hamburg in July.

There is a spread of unease across Germany and Europe over how its relationship with the new president will play out over the next four years. Trump has threatened to withdraw support from Nato unless member-states boost their military spending levels and his protectionist stance on trade is a cause for concern.

As well, Merkel has stood out as a critic of Trump, questioning his American First policies and criticising him for the two Muslim travel bans he has attempted to enforce, that would also prevent refugees from entering the US.

The White House has said it expects a “robust discussion” between the two leaders with security, EU trade, Russia and Trump’s feelings on Nato, all on the table.

3. Russia will receive a new S&P rating today

The S&P Global agency will give Russia a new rating today, however, don’t expect it to go up by much.

Russia currently has a rating of BB+, one level below investment-grade but with a stable outlook.

Earlier this year, the head of sovereign ratings for the agency, Mortiz Kraemer, told Reuters, that this rating should remain over the next two years in the non-investment grade.

“Russia has the long-entrenched problem of a lack of economic dynamism and diversification. It also has a shrinking population which makes the growth potential even less and what has saved the fiscal account recently is a more substantial recovery of the oil price,” he said.