Spotlight: Expections on G20 trade and investment

File photo taken on May 24, 2016 shows a music fountain in West Lake in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province. Hangzhou is the host city for the 2016 G20 summit on Sept. 4 and Sept. 5.(Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)

BEIJING, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — The Group of 20 summit will be held in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Sept. 4-5. Under the backdrop of a sluggish world economy and fatigued global trade, observers have voiced high expectations on the big changes the summit could deliver.

Yi Xiaozhun, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization, said during an exclusive interview with Xinhua that if G20 leaders can hold active and constructive discussions on the topic of “trade and investment” and adopt the G20 global trade growth strategy, world trade should increase over time.

According to Yi, eight years after the world financial crisis, the global economy and trade haven’t shown clear signs of a revival, yet the maneuvering room for countries to further implement fiscal and monetary policies is decreasing.

However, in the areas of trade and investment, space still exist for cooperation and development. As the host country of this G20 summit, China has put trade and investment on an equal standing with finance and banking, he noted.

China has said it will push for the adoption of a global trade growth strategy and lay out guiding principles for global investment policies to facilitate cross-border investment.

The strategy, once adopted, will largely boost global trade and investment, Yi said. For example, G20 members have promised to reach an agreement on trade facilitation by the end of this year. The agreement will increase global trade volume by one trillion U.S. dollars each year, and create 21 million new job opportunities worldwide, including 8 million in developing countries.

G20 leaders will also push for a discussion of E-Commerce and the development of trade in services, the latter of which makes up nearly a quarter of global trade volume, Yi said.

Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), institutions that provide financing for national development, are encouraged to join hands in solving financing problems of small and middle-sized enterprises in developing countries, he said.

All measures will help cut trade costs and provide more trade opportunities in developing countries, Yi said.

Yang Yanyi, head of Chinese Mission to the European Union, told Xinhua that the summit’s theme of “Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy” is focused on the need to reverse a still anemic global economy.

With stagnation in global trade markets, turmoil and uncertainty in global financial markets, and the European Union and the eurozone stuck in a slow-growth trap, the summit will provide a new driving force for the strong and sustainable development of the global economy, Yang said.

Cooperation between China and Europe within the framework of the G20 Summit will set an example for other countries, and will help restore confidence in the global economy, she said.

Andrea Goldstein, managing director of Bologna-based think-tank Nomisma, expects G20 leaders to be more courageous on global trade, whose growth rate, he said, “is currently lower than global gross domestic product (GDP) growth.”

Addressing protectionism is a priority at the summit. Protectionism appears to be on the rise as well as pressue to close borders to trade, Goldstein said. He also urged strong initiatives in investment.

Jack Ma, founder of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba and chairman of the Business 20 (B20) SME development taskforce, has proposed along with other world business moguls to establish an electronic world trade platform (eWTP) during or after the summit, an e-platform driven by private-sector enterprises and run by business rules, to facilitate global trade.

The eWTP would become an open platform for private enterprises and coordination among international organizations, governments and social groups which focus on the development of SMEs and trade. Once established, the eWTP would help SMEs, even individuals, participate in the global economy through the Internet, Ma said.

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