Trade, jobs on Turnbull's G20 agenda

Malcolm Turnbull will argue for more open trade, innovation and easier flows of investment as he attends the G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

The summit on Sunday and Monday comes amid a faltering global economy, growing concern over violent extremism, China’s muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, the US presidential election and a renewed push for action on climate change.

The prime minister, who is also attending summits in Laos and Micronesia over the coming week, will seek to connect his domestic agenda of innovation, jobs and growth with host Xi Jinping’s theme: ”Toward an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.”

However, as the leaders seek to free up investment flows around the globe, Mr Turnbull is likely to face questions about Australia’s recent blocking of Chinese investment in electricity distributor Ausgrid and rural properties.

Many G20 members are facing domestic political pressure from populist-protectionist parties, such as Australia’s One Nation, to limit foreign investment and wind back free trade deals.

G20 countries have imposed a record 145 new trade-restrictive measures in the seven-month period from last November to May 2016, says the World Trade Organisation – the most since monitoring began in 2009.

However, Mr Turnbull will tell a summit session on Monday “everyone loses from putting up barriers” and there is a solid evidence base to gains made from free trade.

Australia will also argue for stronger action to tackle multinational tax avoidance.

Other issues of concern will be reducing global excess capacity of steel, advancing a new global environmental goods agreement that eliminates trade barriers for a variety of “green” products, better preparing the international financial institutions to address the challenges associated with the global migration crisis, and advancing the global development agenda.

Barack Obama, who will be attending his 10th and final G20, will receive Mr Turnbull’s backing as the US president makes a concerted pitch for the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which has stalled in the US Congress.

Australian officials will be seeking insights on the potential impact of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union.

The summit’s final communique is expected to make some comment on the issue.

Climate change will also be on the agenda, with G20 members encouraging the ratification of the Paris agreement and discussing how to pump more money into renewable energy and green jobs.

On the sidelines, Mr Turnbull will hold a number of bilateral meetings to discuss issues ranging from the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to Australia’s interest in free trade deals with Indonesia and the European Union.

While China does not want the summit to debate its muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, it will be an issue on the margins.

The G20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

© AAP 2016

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