G20 ministers agree to cut cost of world trade to halt slowdown
In the face of a "worrying" rise in protectionism, trade ministers from the world's major economies have agreed to cut trade costs, increase policy coordination and enhance financing, according to China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng.
The Group of 20 trade ministers, who wrapped up a two-day meeting in Shanghai yesterday, approved a broad trade growth strategy aimed at reversing a slowing in global trade, and backed guiding principles for global investment policymaking.
"The global recovery continues, but it remains uneven and falls short of our ambition for strong, sustainable and balanced growth. Downside risks and vulnerabilities persist," the ministers said in a joint statement.
"We agree that we need to do more to achieve our common objectives for global growth, stability and prosperity."
The spectre of protectionism has loomed large over global trade amid sluggish economic growth and is a pressing concern for China.
The country's huge but struggling steel sector has relied on exports to offset the impact of slowing domestic demand, but it has been accused of using unfair pricing to push foreign competitors out of business.
The ministers discussed the need to address overcapacity, particularly in the steel sector, but some disagreed about the need for specific new commitments to resolve the problem, said one senior trade official involved in the talks, declining to be identified because details of the discussions had not been made public.
The joint statement reflected China's concerns that the country was being singled out for blame for a glut that has led to a collapse in global prices, noting instead that excess capacity in steel and other industries is "a global issue which requires collective responses", and that subsidies and government support could cause distortions.
On the UK's decision to exit the European Union, UK and EU representatives in Shanghai were at pains to stress that they would come up with a "sensible and mature new arrangement", South Africa's Minister for Trade and Industry Rob Davies said.