World leaders agree to improve trade relations

4 Dec 18

The world’s most powerful economies have agreed to improve the global trading system as US president Donald Trump delays Chinese tariffs.

 

At the end of the G20 Summit this weekend in Buenos Aires, the G20 heads signed a ‘leaders’ declaration’ warning the current trade system is “falling short of its objectives” and there is “room for improvement”. They also highlighted the need to reform of the World Trade Organisation.

This comes as there has been increased global trade tension after Trump issued steel and aluminium tariffs on countries earlier this year.

Most recently the US and China have imposed new tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods, marking the biggest round of tariffs in the escalating trade war.

But after a dinner at the G20 meeting this weekend, Trump said he would delay new 25% tariffs on Chinese imports by 90 days to allow time for negotiations, according to the White House.

Trump said their dinner “was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the US and China”.

A statement by the White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders also said: “President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200bn worth of product at the 10% rate, and not raise it to 25% at this time.”

She added that China had agreed to purchase “a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial” amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the US to “reduce the trade imbalance”.

Sanders also said both the leaders of the US and China had agreed to negotiate on “structural changes” on a range of issues including intellectual property, cyber intrusion and theft, and agriculture.

These issues had initially caused the trade tension between the two and if they are not negotiated successfully the US will impose the 25% tariffs in 90 days, the White House spokesperson explained.

Chinese state councillor Wang Yi said the negotiations were conducted in a “friendly and candid atmosphere”.

“Discussion on economic and trade issues was very positive and constructive. The two heads of state reached consensus to halt the mutual increase of new tariffs,” he told reporters in Buenos Aires.

The declaration also highlighted it was now 19 members of the G20 countries that were still signed up to tackling climate change.

It singled out the US for its unwavering decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The statement said the US had “affirmed its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilising all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment”.

It added the other 19 countries were committed to the Paris Agreement in its “full implementation”, reflecting the “common” responsibilities and capabilities “in light of different national circumstances”.

The statement said: “We [the signatories of the Paris Agreement] will continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic growth.”

President Donald Trump decided this summer to pull out of the global agreement to tackle climate change.

A Congress-commissioned report last week warned that climate change could cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars a year by the end of the century if the Trump administration does not change its policies.

The annual G20 meeting in Argentina focused on infrastructure for development, a sustainable food future and a gender mainstreaming strategy across the G20 agenda, the official meeting page said.

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