G20 calls for stepped-up dialogue in trade issues

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A news conference at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Reuters

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Global finance leaders called on Sunday for stepped-up dialogue to prevent trade and geopolitical tensions from hurting growth, but ended a two-day G20 meeting with little consensus on how to resolve multiple disputes over US tariff actions.

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The finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s 20 largest economies warned that growth, while still strong, was becoming less synchronized and downside risks over the short- and medium-term had increased.

“These include rising financial vulnerabilities, heightened trade and geopolitical tensions, global imbalances, inequality and structurally weak growth, particularly in some advanced economies,” the G20 finance officials said in a communique.

“We … recognize the need to step up dialogue and actions to mitigate risks and enhance confidence,” the communique said.

This marked a strengthening of language compared to their previous statement issued in March, in which they simply “recognize the need for further dialogue.”

“The latest language suggests a great deal of urgency about resolving these issues,” Australia Treasurer Scott Morrison told Reuters, adding that the ministers had made it clear in the discussion that they were concerned about “tit-for-tat measures” and that open trade was the goal.

“The language previously had been a bit ambiguous about that, a bit sheepish,” Mr Morrison added.

US President Donald Trump raised the stakes on Friday with a threat to impose tariffs on all $500 billion of Chinese exports to the United States unless Beijing agrees to major structural changes to its technology transfer, industrial subsidy and joint venture policies.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a news conference he had had no substantive discussions on trade with China’s finance minister, Liu Kun.

“Any time they want to sit down and negotiate meaningful changes, I and our team are available,” he said.

The Chinese delegation did not speak to media at the G20 meeting.

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