Group of smaller nations warns of spillover from trade conflicts

Supporters of the Workers' Socialist Movement protesting in Buenos Aires on Thursday ahead of the G-20 Leaders' Summit. The Global Governance Group, an informal group of 30 smaller states, said it welcomes recent efforts by the G-20 to uphold the rul
Supporters of the Workers' Socialist Movement protesting in Buenos Aires on Thursday ahead of the G-20 Leaders' Summit. The Global Governance Group, an informal group of 30 smaller states, said it welcomes recent efforts by the G-20 to uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Leaders of largest economies urged to safeguard against risks of uneven growth

All countries, especially smaller ones, will be negatively affected if trade conflicts spill over into wider tensions and disrupt global trade, an informal group of 30 smaller states warned ahead of the G-20 Leaders' Summit in Argentina.

The Global Governance Group also called on the leaders of the world's largest economies to safeguard against the risks of uneven growth, in a statement it issued on Thursday as they arrived in Buenos Aires for the summit, which began yesterday morning.

The run-up to the summit has been full of disagreements among major powers, which will spend the weekend trying to build a consensus on thorny issues like climate change amid growing US scepticism about multilateralism.

Global trade tensions and the US-China trade war have also loomed over the global forum, and today's dinner scheduled between United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be watched closely for signs of whether the tit-for-tat tariffs will abate or advance.

Singapore is attending the summit as chairman of Asean at the invitation of Argentina, which holds the G-20 presidency this year.

The Republic will also speak on behalf of the Global Governance Group (3G), which was formed to influence the G-20 to take into account the interests of smaller countries affected by its decisions. Its members hail from several continents and include Singapore, Finland, Malaysia, Qatar and Uruguay.

In its statement, the 3G noted with concern the rising global trade tensions and welcomed recent efforts by the G-20, with Argentina at its helm, to uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system.

The 3G also reiterated its strong commitment to open trade and investment.

It also noted a discussion paper it contributed to the G-20 which set out the importance of maintaining and strengthening an open, rules-based multilateral trading system as embodied by the World Trade Organisation, to ensure that trade remains free and open.

The 3G also welcomed the improved global economic outlook, but added: "That said, growth has been increasingly uneven and some of the risks, including fi-nancial vulnerabilities and heightened trade tensions, have partially materialised."

It urged the G-20 to continue to undertake macroeconomic and structural policy actions to achieve strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, and to guard against risks.

It welcomed the final report of the G-20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance, an international group of top economists and leaders tasked to review global financial governance issues chaired by Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The report, released in October at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Bali, called for reforms to the international monetary and financial system to enable countries to reach their full growth and development potential and avert the damage caused by financial crisis, the 3G noted.

The 3G also welcomed the G-20's continued efforts to advance work on development, as well as its efforts to end modern slavery and human trafficking.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2018, with the headline 'Group of smaller nations warns of spillover from trade conflicts'. Print Edition | Subscribe