Agenda should be clear for G-20 summit in Hangzhou: The Nation

A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China on July 29, 2016.
A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China on July 29, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on Sept 2, the paper says the stakes are high for host China, but equally high for the global economy.

China has made clear that the G-20 summit opening on Sunday in Hangzhou will be different, with more developing countries than ever before invited to join the world's major economies.

Beijing believes that attending to the wellbeing of the global economy is not the sole duty of any specific group of nations but rather all of them, whether categorised as developed or developing.

Its message in broadening the level of participation is that, when economic progress slows, everyone is hurt. Ever-increasing interdependence amid globalisation is bound to bring growing pains if flaws remain in the system.

For Chinese leaders, the Hangzhou gathering comes at a highly crucial time, since the role of China has become so prevalent in all spheres of global intercourse - the economy, security and social development.

For the host, the stakes are high, particularly given its own economic slowdown. Anything short of complete success could seriously damage the leadership of President Xi Jingping.

Doubtless he and other Chinese leaders have urged the G-20 participants ahead of the gathering to cooperate and thus ensure that the outcome is fruitful and any promises made can be kept.

Beijing has already set forth several key focal points for the G-20 members, but for the developing countries, three issues stand out.

First, the global framework of investment needs to be ironed out. China has already laid the groundwork for the framework, the first of its kind on this scale. The nations of the world collectively share among them more than 3,000 bilateral investment agreements. On top of that, there are another 300 international agreements that promote investment, but the regulations they contain are often fragmented and country-specific, posing significant barriers to investment in certain geographical areas. A global framework is thus urgently needed to encourage more investment and thus stimulate economic growth.

The developing nations attending the meeting will also be keenly watching developments on issues related to sustainable development and climate change. Thailand, current chair of the G-77, will have its representatives there, as will Laos, chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year. Asean has already settled on its "2025 vision", which features more than a dozen action plans for sustainable development within the region.

Thailand, in charge of Asean's response to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, can play a positive role by providing a fresh perspective and proven experience - we've had a sufficiency economy for more than four decades, in accord with the urgings of His Majesty the King. We can help identify priorities and draw up road maps. China, as the world's dominant developing country, would do well to take these lessons into consideration, especially in balancing growth against long-term environmental protection.

The third concern is the danger that political conflict might hijack the Hangzhou summit. Territorial disputes and protectionist measures might scuttle the cooperation that's so desperately needed if fiscal progress is to be assured. The Trans-Pacific Agreement has been embraced by many nations, but alarms others with its potential to curb localised growth and initiative. The conflict over territory in the South China Sea and Beijing's tussles with Japan and South Korea might well rear their heads.

For the good of all, though - assuming that is China's genuine interest here - its delegates and those of other countries will have to show restraint in their deliberations and keep discussion of contentious matters to the sidelines. Such conflicts have to be resolved, of course, but at this summit, it should be the reeling global economy that commands attention, so that the participants can unify around a cure.

* The Nation is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 21 newspapers.