G20 Summit opens amid slow growth, trade disputes
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Sunday for leaders of the United States, Germany and other major economies to resist pressure to raise trade barriers as they opened a summit amid sluggish global growth and disputes over China's steel exports and Apple's Irish tax bill.
China made trade a theme of the Group of 20 meeting even as Beijing faces complaints it is flooding world markets with low-cost steel, fuelling demands for trade curbs. The president of the European Commission highlighted the conflict by calling for the summit to take action.
Opening the two-day meeting in this lakeside city southwest of Shanghai, Xi called for more innovation to spur economic growth and reforms to global financial and economic management. He appealed for cooperation in taxes, anti-corruption and measures to "improve the ability of the world economy to resist risks".
Chinese officials said earlier that Beijing would propose a plan to boost trade and innovation through regulatory changes and closer government cooperation.
"We should build an open world economy," Xi said before an audience that included President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders from Japan, South Korea, India and other governments.
"Group of 20 countries should abide by their commitment to avoid taking new protectionist measures, strengthen investment policy cooperation and take effective action to promote trade growth," Xi said.
China hopes to use its status as this year's G20 leader to increase its influence in global economic management. Chinese officials say they want the G20, created to coordinate the response to the 2008 financial crisis, to take on a longer-term regulatory role.
The World Trade Organization is forecasting this year's global trade growth at an anaemic 2.8 per cent - its fifth straight year below three percent.
Leaders at the meeting have said they will call for "inclusive growth" - a reference to efforts to defuse pressure to protect local industries by spreading the benefits of closer global integration to millions of people who have been left behind by wrenching changes.
Obama stressed that theme at a separate news conference with May.
"We understand that many of our citizens are frustrated by the pace of globalisation and feel they're not experiencing the benefits of international trade," Obama said. "We must all work together to spur economic growth, to boost free trade and build a fairer economy that truly works for all."
Also on Sunday, the head of the European Union's governing body called for action on China's bloated steel industry.
The G20 meeting "must urgently find a solution" to excess steel production, said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. He called on Beijing to accept a monitoring mechanism for overproduction that Beijing's trading partners blame for low prices and job losses.
Another prominent issue at the summit is G20 member Britain's June vote to leave the 28-nation EU, seen by some analysts as the first in a wave of moves by other nations to retreat from free trade. Germany, South Korea and other governments say they also want to discuss climate, energy and possible reforms to the global tax system to reduce tax evasion.