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But the Baden Baden meeting established Mnuchin as a pragmatic operator in the Trump administration's drive for a more level playing field on trade, said Domenico Lombardi, another former IMF official now with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think tank. 

"It'd be in the interest of Germany and Europe to establish a strong, bilateral relationship with the new Treasury secretary rather than questioning his authority," Lombardi said. "The alternative for them would be to negotiate directly with Trump and that would be worse."

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