G-20 leaders express ‘serious concerns’ about trade tensions

G-20 leaders expressed "serious concern" over trade tensions as U.S. Trade Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump would decide whether to impose more tariffs on China after the annual summit. Photo courtesy Steven Mnuchin

June 10 (UPI) — Leaders from some of the world’s largest economies discussed concerns over trade tensions amid ongoing international issues such as the trade war between the United States and China.

In a joint statement following a two-day meeting of G-20 leaders in Japan ahead of the group’s annual summit, the 20 world leaders issued a joint statement noting that many ministers “expressed serious concerns about the current tensions surrounding trade.”

The G-20 officials said they would work with other members of the international organization that regulates trades between governments to undertake WTO reforms “with a sense of urgency.”

The leaders placed a particular emphasis on improving the way the organization handles disputes between members.

“We agree that action is necessary regarding the functioning of the dispute settlement system consistent with the rules as negotiated by the WTO members,” the statement read.

The 20 leaders added they would strive to achieve “a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment to keep our markets open.”

They also reached agreements on plans to revamp tax systems and better regulate areas such as artificial intelligence, during Saturday’s session, which focused on the digital economy.

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U.S. Trade Secretary Steven Mnuchin shared a photo with the head of China’s central bank, Yi Gang, saying the two had a “constructive meeting” on trade issues.

Mnuchin told CNBC that U.S. President Donald Trump will decide whether to impose tariffs on more Chinese goods after the two-day G-20 summit in Osaka beginning June 28.

“We’re going to need to see action and President Trump is going to need to make sure he’s clear that we’re moving in the right direction to a deal,” he said. “The president will make a decision after the meeting.”

Mnuchin added the key to the decision would depend on China’s willingness to agree to U.S. demands regarding non-tariff barriers and forced technology transfer.

“I believe if China is willing to move forward on the terms that we were discussing, we’ll have an agreement. If they’re not, we will proceed with tariffs,” he said.

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