EU chiefs highlight 'free and fair' trade ahead of G20 summit

Updated 2017-07-06 15:55:30 Xinhua

Bolstering an open and fair rules-based multilateral trading system and harnessing globalization should be at the top agenda of the Group of Twenty (G20), the chiefs of the European Union (EU) wrote in a joint letter in the run-up to the Hamburg summit of the G20.[Special coverage]

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, representing the EU, are set to attend the summit on Friday and Saturday.

"Europe's role in the world and our responsibility at the international level in these turbulent times are growing," the two chiefs wrote in the opening salvo of a three-page joint letter issued on Wednesday.

More than ever the EU has become a global point of reference for supporting free and fair trade or concrete actions in facing global challenges, they said.

"Concerns about job losses and erosion of standards attributed to trade will be at the top of the agenda. These concerns must be addressed, not by erecting protectionist barriers, but by making trade and investment both free and fair," they said, proclaiming that they will advocate a set of actions at the summit.

"First, the G20 must adhere to its anti-protectionism pledge and strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system anchored in the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is our best chance for a global level playing field," they said.

"This means filling gaps in the rulebook. We will urge G20 members to contribute to concrete results at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires next December, including on e-commerce and subsidies," they added, underscoring that "all parties must implement agreed rules."

"We will be clear that the EU will defend its industry robustly when other countries refuse to abide by the rules," they said.

The two chiefs said they will bring up issues like "production overcapacity, especially in the steel sector, as a matter of utmost priority."

"We expect all members of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, launched at the last G20 summit, to cooperate in good faith with a view to removing the subsidies and other government-imposed distortions at the root of the problem," they said.

Conceding that many people in Europe and elsewhere still feel left behind by the economic recovery and are apprehensive about globalization, the two chiefs highlighted that the G20 should play a key role in making the global economy work for all.

"We need to engage in an honest, fact-based conversation with citizens to take stock of globalization and its effects on producers and consumers."

"We will also underline the responsibilities of the private sector to address concerns about globalization, and will welcome collaborative efforts to improve labor, social and environmental standards in global supply chains, as a contribution to a level playing field," the two chiefs said.

Created in 1999, the G20 is a central forum for international cooperation on financial and economic issues. It comprises 19 countries plus the EU.

The group, home to almost two-thirds of the world's population, accounts for more than 80 percent of the gross world product and 75 percent of global trade.

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