G20 talks: Concrete steps missing in leaders’ vows on economy

g20-summit-hangzhou-china

Leaders from the world’s top economies broadly agreed at a summit in China on Monday to coordinate macroeconomic policies and oppose protectionism, but few concrete proposals emerged to meet growing challenges to globalization and free trade.
The two-day gathering in the scenic Chinese city of Hangzhou agreed to oppose protectionism, with Chinese President Xi Jinping urging major economies to drive growth through innovation, not just financial and monetary measures.
“We aim to revive growth engines of international trade and investment,” Xi said in a closing statement. “We will support multilateral trade mechanisms and oppose protectionism to reverse declines in global trade.”
Discussions at the meeting were distracted by North Korea test-firing three medium-range ballistic missiles in a defiant reminder of the risks to global security.
North Korea has tested missiles at sensitive times in the past to draw attention to its military might. But Monday’s launch risked embarrassing its main ally Beijing, which has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure a smooth summit meeting in Hangzhou.
Beijing said it hoped relevant parties would avoid taking any actions that would escalate tensions. The United States called the launch reckless, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told US President Barack Obama that it was unforgivable.
On other fronts, the United States tried but failed to finalize a deal with Russia for a ceasefire in Syria on the sidelines of the summit.
Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a longer-than-expected discussion about whether, and how, they could agree on a deal, a senior US administration official said.
But in talks earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were unable to come to terms on a ceasefire for the second time in two weeks, although they will meet again this week.
The G20 called for the formation of a global forum to take steps to address steel excess capacity and encourage adjustments, the White House said in a statement, one of the controversial issues discussed at the summit. China produces half the world’s annual output of 1.6 billion tonnes of steel and has struggled to decrease its estimated 300 million tonne overcapacity, and rising prices have given companies there an incentive to boost production for export.
With the summit taking place after Britain’s vote in June to exit the European Union and before the US presidential election in November, G20 leaders had been expected to mount a defense of free trade and globalization and warn against isolationism.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who supports protectionist trade policies, has… read full story

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