G-20 finance ministers' communique likely to describe trade tensions as 'intensified'

Participants gather prior to the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan, on June 8, 2019.
Participants gather prior to the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan, on June 8, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

FUKUOKA, JAPAN (REUTERS) - Group of 20 finance leaders agreed to describe trade and geopolitical tensions as "intensified" and pledged to take further action to address these economic risks, three G-20 sources said as a second day of meetings got underway on Sunday (June 9).

After rocky negotiations that nearly aborted the issuance of a communique, the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors gathered in Fukuoka, Japan, agreed to affirm language on trade issued in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last December, the sources with knowledge of the final communique language said.

The Buenos Aires meeting launched a five-month trade truce between the United States and China to allow for negotiations to end their deepening trade war. But those talks hit an impasse last month, prompting higher tariffs on both Chinese and US goods as the conflict neared the end of its first year.

The G-20 source said that the communique to be issued later on Sunday will say: "Most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified."

The final communique will also say the G-20 leaders "will continue to address these risks and stand ready to take further action", the source told Reuters.

"We reaffirm our leaders' conclusion on trade at the Buenos Aires summit."

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet at a June 28-29 summit in Osaka, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday.

 
 
 

Mr Mnuchin described the meeting as having parallels to the two presidents' Dec 1 meeting in Buenos Aires, when Mr Trump was poised to hike tariffs on US$200 billion (S$272 billion) worth of Chinese goods.

Mr Trump took that step in May and is poised to impose tariffs on a remaining US$300 billion list of Chinese goods around the time of the Osaka summit.

At the Buenos Aires meeting, the G-20 leaders described international trade and investment as "important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development".

The leaders in that communique called for reform of the World Trade Organisation rules that were falling short of objectives with "room for improvement", pledging to review progress at the Japan summit.