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G20 trade ministers say WTO reform 'urgent' as new Trump tariffs loom

The leaders, however, did not provide any details of possible WTO reforms or how dialogue on trade was being increased

Reuters  |  Mar Del Plata 

G20 trade ministers' meeting in Argentina (Photo: Reuters)
G20 trade ministers' meeting in Argentina (Photo: Reuters)

Trade and investment ministers from countries meeting in said there was an "urgent need" to improve the World Trade Organization, a joint statement said on Friday.

With U.S. readying tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods, the ministers said they were "stepping up the dialogue" on international trade disputes, according to the statement issued at the summit.

It did not provide any details of possible WTO reforms or how dialogue on trade was being increased.

"Obviously the new tariff measures are not positive," Argentina's Production and Minister, Dante Sica, said in a conference at the end of the one-day meeting. "But we need to see how things evolve."

German Deputy Economy said the joint declaration sent a powerful signal about the importance of strengthening WTO "especially in times of 'first' and increasing global protectionism," with next steps to follow when leaders meet in at the end of November.

"We have to use this momentum," Wittke said in a statement released by the ministry after the summit.

Outside the meeting, smoke filled the air in the normally tranquil seaside city of where the conference is being held. Protesters burned makeshift American flags and chanted against free trade orthodoxy and Trump's support of Argentina's Mauricio Macri, whose fiscal belt-tightening has garnered a backlash from the country's working-class.

"We're standing here in solidarity with the workers of Latin While those politicians sleep in fancy beds, communities starve because of trade and adjustment policies that hurt the most vulnerable," protester Maralin Cornil, 30, said.

holds the G20's rotating presidency this year, and is re-negotiating a $50 billion stand-by financing deal with the IMF, cutting its fiscal deficit targets and reducing costs to ensure it can continue paying its international debts.

Trump has said he would attend the summit's final meeting with other heads of state, in on November 30.

The has demanded that cut its $375 billion trade surplus with the United States, end policies aimed at acquiring U.S. technologies and intellectual property, and roll back

While Trump has threatened to pull the from the WTO, has called for to make the global trade system fairer and more effective.

The 23-year-old trading club is run on the basis of consensus, meaning that every one of its 164 members has an effective veto and it is almost impossible to get agreement on any change to the rules.

Sica also said that talks on a free trade deal between the and the Mercosur trade bloc of Argentina, Brazil, and were wrapping up, with an agreement likely by the end of the year.

"We are in the final stages regarding the most delicate aspects of an EU-Mercosur agreement and we are concluding with the political and technical details," Sica said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, September 15 2018. 13:15 IST