G20 should work toward concrete action

World leaders pose for a photo op at the two-day G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday that the global economy is at a crucial stage and suggested that G20 members avoid new protectionist measures and shift from coping with crises to long-term governance.

Experts said Xi’s offer of remedies for the sluggish world economy come amid rising concerns over protectionism and uncertainty, and it would add momentum to economic growth if G20 members could reach a consensus on establishing a regular G20 mechanism and assisting developing countries.

Xi made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the summit in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province.

Leaders of the G20 members, including US President Barack Obama, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Britain’s Theresa May, Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Francois Hollande and India’s Narendra Modi and officials from international organizations are attending the summit.

In his speech, Xi said the summit would focus on topics essential to the world economy, including macro-economic policy coordination, innovation-driven growth, more efficient world governance, robust trade and investment, and inclusive development.

“In the face of challenges, we should build an open world economy and continue to push forward free and convenient trade and investment,” Xi said, stressing that the G20 members should keep their promises not to adopt new protectionist measures.

Xi said the G20 should work toward concrete action and not empty promises.

Xi gave these remedies as the world economy faces great uncertainty since Britain announced its exit from the EU and the rise of protectionism, Zhou Xiaojing, vice director of the Institute of Asian and African Development Studies of the State Council Development Research Center, told the Global Times.

The Hangzhou summit is expected to come up with measures to deal with sluggish demand, financial market volatility and feeble trade and investment, Zhou said, adding that China is making its own efforts, including pushing forward supply-side reform and developing an interconnected economy.

Xi also called on G20 members to take a leadership role in major global issues and suggested a transformation from crisis response, which focuses on short-term policies, to one of long-term governance, which shapes medium- to long-term policies.

Zhang Yuyan, director-general of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of World Economics and Politics, told the Global Times that the two-day summit would be a milestone if G20 leaders could reach consensus on a shift from coping with crises to long- term governance. Zhang said the world faces more long-term economic issues, including industrial structure reform, green finance and sustainable development, and more multi-lateral talks are needed since a nation’s policies would influence others.

G20 members could make general development directions for the world economy during the summit, but it needs all members and world organizations to take specific actions to stimulate slow economic growth, said Zhang.

Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said the summit is “a landmark event in the history of China’s diplomacy that reveals the country’s growing influence and soft power.”

Tom Bernes, distinguished fellow and former executive director of the Center for International Governance Innovation, told the Global Times that by giving suggestions to solve economic issues, China is providing leadership and some of its policies, including the start of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the “Belt and Road” initiative, are win-win.

2030 agenda

Xi also said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be realized to promote inclusive growth.

This is the first time the G20 will have an action plan to implement it, and it will provide support for the industrialization of African countries and least developed countries, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

China said the G20 should help developing countries, since the future of the world economy relies on the development of these countries, said Zhou.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the summit on Sunday that he welcomes G20 efforts under the Chinese presidency to promote a new path for growth, trade and investment, and he is encouraged by G20 efforts to support industrialization in Africa and the least developed countries.

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