Trade tensions the biggest risk to global growth, says group of smaller countries

Containers on a ship at a port in Qingdao, China, on June 24, 2019.
Containers on a ship at a port in Qingdao, China, on June 24, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Concerns over growing trade tensions have been raised by the 30-member Global Governance Group (3G) ahead of the Group of 20 Leaders' Summit, which starts on Friday (June 28).

The informal coalition of small and medium-sized economies noted that global growth remains low and may continue to be affected by key risks.

"The 3G is concerned with the escalating global trade tensions," the group said in a statement shared by Singapore's Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

"All countries, especially small and medium-sized countries like the 3G countries, will be negatively impacted if trade conflicts spill over into wider tensions and disrupt global trade."

The group, convened by Singapore, reiterated the importance of an open, rules-based multilateral trading system, commending efforts made by Japan - which holds the G-20 presidency - to uphold and update this system.

These include injecting political impetus into the discussion of pertinent issues at the World Trade Organisation, such as the digital economy.

The 3G also called on the G-20 heavyweight economies to continue undertaking macroeconomic and structural policy actions to achieve "strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, and mitigate downside risks".

 
 
 

The 3G group includes South-east Asian states Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as countries such as Qatar, Finland, Switzerland and New Zealand. It aims to promote greater transparency and inclusivity in the G-20 process.

The 3G welcomed the G-20's continued efforts to advance work on development, and commended the Japanese presidency on its efforts to galvanise support for universal health coverage. It called on the G-20 to work closely with intergovernmental organisations such as the World Health Organisation to drive efforts in this area.

The 3G also commended Japan's leadership of the G-20 this year, highlighting its efforts to build on efforts by previous presidencies to engage the United Nations, relevant regional organisations and non-G-20 members.

It hoped that the outcome of the Osaka Summit will be "constructive and ambitious", and that the 3G economies will continue to be engaged under Saudi Arabia's G-20 presidency next year.