G20 nations agree to improve international trade governance to halt global slowdown

Beijing: The world's top 20 economies agreed to improve international trade governance in view of the global slowdown due to increasing anti-trade measures that have become more universal since 2009.

G20 nations, which account for 85 percent of the world trade, would remain committed to an open global economy, and will further work towards trade liberalisation and facilitation, said a statement released following the two-day G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Shanghai.

Reuters

Reuters

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) statistics showed that global trade growth has slowed significantly since 2008, from an average of over 7 percent per annum between 1990 and 2008, to less than 3 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Last year marked the fourth consecutive year with global trade growth below 3 percent. The meeting endorsed the G20 Strategy for Global Trade Growth, in which the economies will lead by example to lower trade costs, harness trade and investment policy coherence, boost trade in services, enhance trade finance, promote e-commerce development and address trade and development, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The WTO unveiled a new trade-related index called the World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) on Friday ahead of the meeting, which is designed to provide real time information on trends in global trade.

The current reading suggested that trade growth will remain weak into the third quarter of 2016. Also, G20 economies vowed to support low-income countries (LICs) to participate more in global value chains (GVCs) to drive global trade growth, it said.

The G20 economies recognised that GVCs, encompassing regional value chains (RVCs), are important feature of the global economy, and are important drivers of world trade.

The economies would support policies to allow firms of all sizes, including small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in countries with different developing levels to participate in and fully utilise GVCs, the statement said.

G20 members would continue to enhance capacity building to promote inclusive and coordinated GVCs and seek to develop and implement initiatives to assist developing countries, particularly LICs and SMEs in the areas that matter most to GVCs, it said. Such initiatives might include appropriate infrastructure, technology support, access to credit, supply chain connectivity, agriculture, innovation and e-commerce, skills training and responsible business conduct, it said.

Meanwhile, G20 members with capacity to do so would continue to help developing countries 'and SMEs' ability to adopt and comply with relevant national and international standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures.

G20 members would also facilitate developing countries and SMEs access to information on trade and investment opportunities, and provide further information to help them participate in GVCs and move up the value chain, it said.