G-20 leaders leave out pledge to fight protectionism for 2nd year
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - Leaders of the Group of 20 economies ended their two-day summit in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday without a pledge to fight protectionism for the second year running and exhibited a rift over climate change, Kyodo News reports.
At a time when a further escalation of trade friction between the United States and China is feared to lead to a global economic slowdown, the G-20 chiefs acknowledged that is one of the major downside risks and vowed to use "all policy tools" to realize sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.
"Trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified," the G-20 leaders said in a joint statement issued after their meeting in Osaka, western Japan, just as a much-hyped meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended.
The statement is set to be scrutinized after the G-20 leaders' pledge to fight protectionism was also dropped at the previous summit in Buenos Aires.
Without using the word protectionism, the leaders said, "We strive to realize a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open."
International trade and investment are "important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development," it said.
The gathering of the G-20, which represents about 80 percent of the world's economy, came as the leaders face an uphill battle to keep the group relevant as multilateral arrangements have come under attack by Trump.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, hosting the summit, had called on other leaders to send out a powerful message, particularly on free trade, and maintain a rules-based multilateral trading system.
On the 2015 Paris climate change accord from which the United States has decided to withdraw, the remaining members pledged to work toward its full implementation.
The United States reiterated its position to pull out of the deal, saying it "disadvantages American workers and taxpayers."
European leaders had stepped up pressure on their G-20 peers. Before the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated he would not agree on a joint statement that does not mention the accord and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also called for a "strong statement."
Despite the lack of unity over the climate change accord, the G-20 members agreed to end the discharge of marine plastic waste into the oceans by 2050 and included the goal as the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision.
They were on the same page over the need for updating and enhancing the functions of the World Trade Organization, created in 1995, according to the joint statement.
As making economic growth inclusive and sustainable is one of the top priorities for the G-20, Abe stressed the need to distribute economic benefits brought by technological innovation, together with globalization, more broadly and address rising worries that they could exacerbate inequality.
The G-20 leaders endorsed Saturday a set of investing principles for "high-quality" infrastructure to propel economic growth,
Japan has said the new principles for infrastructure development should include elements such as openness, transparency, economic efficiency and debt sustainability.
Demand for infrastructure is expected to increase in emerging economies and experts say securing funding, through more participation by the private sector, is also a key challenge.
The G-20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.