By Ayako Hirayama / Japan News Staff WriterOSAKA — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the world’s leading economies to find common ground to mitigate downward risks to the global economy, during the first session of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka on Friday.
The first session was a working lunch during which the participants took up the issues of trade, investment and the global economy, what Abe described as the core items on the G20 agenda.
Abe said that realizing sustainable growth while monitoring risks is the foremost duty of the G20. Despite signs of a moderate recovery, Abe raised concerns over rising geopolitical and trade tensions and other downside risks to the global economy.
“Taking necessary action is the primary responsibility for G20 members,” Abe said at the beginning of the session. “I want to share the determination to achieve growth by making use of all policy tools.”
Abe cited globalization, aging population and digitization as three “structural challenges” to realizing sustainable growth that the global economy currently faces.
During the session, the G20 leaders had candid discussions in which many voiced concerns over downward risks they perceived as important issues to be tackled urgently, according to a Japanese government official. Many of the participants pointed out that the World Trade Organization has failed to play its original role in settling trade disputes, the official said.
In light of this, the leaders shared the view that the G20 should take the lead in mitigating downward risks.
The G20 members reached a consensus to politically back actions such as that currently taken by about 80 willing WTO members to create common rules and ensure free cross-border data transactions, as e-commerce particularly has been a difficult issue to handle.
“I want to make this Osaka summit one that will pave the way for realizing a sustainable world under win-win cooperation by finding common ground, instead of shedding light on differences,” Abe said.
At the second session, the G20 leaders focused on innovation, a driver for economic growth. Japan has promoted “Society 5.0,” a concept of creating a society balancing economic development and social issues by using innovations and technologies such as robots and artificial intelligence.
During the session, Abe reiterated the importance of “Data Free Flow with Trust,” the idea that he first advocated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January this year. He called data an engine of growth and source of innovation.
Abe said the G20 leaders confirmed the view that innovation is essential to resolve issues such as aging population, disease and climate change. “I want to accelerate discussions on creating international rules on data flow,” he said.Speech