June 26, 2019 / 12:14 AM / 4 months ago

Draft communique of G20 summit backs free trade: Japan media

TOKYO (Reuters) - Leaders of the G20 top economies will call this week for the promotion of free trade to achieve strong global growth, Japanese media said on Wednesday, as the United States and China seek to resume talks to resolve their bitter trade dispute.

The logo of G20 Summit and Ministerial Meetings is displayed at the G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting in Tokyo, Japan January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

The widening fallout from the U.S.-China trade war has jolted markets and tested the resolve of members of the Group of 20, whose leaders are meeting in the western city of Osaka this week, to present a united front in averting a global recession.

In preparing a joint communique, Japan, the chair of the meetings, seeks common ground between the United States, which opposes language denouncing protectionism, and other nations, which want a stronger warning against the risk of trade tension.

A draft of the document shows G20 nations will highlight the promotion of free trade and technological innovation as two of the key drivers of the global economy, the Asahi newspaper said.

It also stresses the importance for nations of the grouping to create a positive cycle so that the benefits of solid growth are distributed broadly, the paper added.

The proposed language promoting free trade would respond to demands by some European countries for a warning in the summit communique against the spread of protectionist policies, it said.

Since an inaugural meeting in 2008 to tackle the global financial crisis, the grouping’s leaders have included a phrase pledging to battle protectionism in annual communiques.

Under pressure from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, however, it dropped the phrase from the communique issued after last year’s summit.

Since then, the word “protectionism” has become taboo among G20 policymakers, as Trump’s administration became sensitive to criticism over its tariffs imposed on China and other members of the grouping.

A communique signed off by G20 finance leaders at a meeting this month also featured no denunciations of protectionism.

Markets are focusing on whether Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could pave the way to resolving the trade imbroglio in their meeting set for the margins of the summit.

Last year’s summit ushered in a five-month trade truce to allow for talks between the United States and China to end their intensifying trade war.

Those talks hit an impasse last month, prompting both sides to impose higher tariffs on each other’s goods as the dispute nears its first anniversary.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the U.S. and Chinese leaders’ planned meeting has some parallels with their Buenos Aires summit last December that postponed a tariff hike.

Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Stephen Coates and Sam Holmes

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