G20 talks: China vows to act with partners to boost world trade

Discus­ses ways to streng­then invest­ment, coordi­nate global strate­gies to spur activi­ty

Saturday’s talks brought together G20 trade ministers as well as representatives from organisations including the IMF, OECD and WTO. PHOTO: AFP

Saturday’s talks brought together G20 trade ministers as well as representatives from organisations including the IMF, OECD and WTO. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI: China will work with its G20 partners to promote global trade growth, said Beijing Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng as the world’s top economies met in Shanghai.

“The economic recovery and growth is still feeble and global trade is fluctuating at a low level,” he said before minister began talks and vowed that China would work with all parties with wisdom, courage and action.

The global trade is expected to grow at a tepid 2.8% in 2016, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said in April, with uncertainty over Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) only adding to concerns.

“Year 2016 would be the fifth consecutive year with trade growth below 3% – its weakest sustained level in 30 years,” said the WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo on Friday, warning that there were no immediate signs of significant change in the current trajectory for trade growth.

Gao said the ministers discussed measures on boosting trade and coordinating global investment strategies along with strengthening investment among the G20 nations. “The world is hopeful despite the still difficult tasks which lie in front of us; but there is still great hope and opportunities contained in it.”

Saturday’s talks brought together G20 trade ministers as well as representatives from organisations including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and WTO. The talks will be followed by a press conference.

China, a key driver of global growth, has seen its GDP growth slip to its slowest rate in a quarter of a century, with expansion last year weakening to 6.9%.

The world’s largest trader in goods also saw its total trade fall 8% last year.

The World Bank, in a report released in March, identified the slump in Chinese growth and the country’s economic transition as key factors in a sharp slowdown in global trade last year.

Beijing has been trying to retool its economy to encourage domestic consumption and move away from infrastructure investment and exports as the main drivers of growth, but the pace has been slow.

Azevedo also appealed for cooperation in the battle to spur trade. “This is a time for governments to work together to see how trade can be used to boost growth, development and job creation.”

“It is also a time for vigilance against measures which hamper and restrict trade and against very damaging anti-trade rhetoric.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2016.

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