G20 Osaka Agenda, June 28-29 / Negative effects of trade conflict will be major focus

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThis is the first installment of a four-part series on the summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka.

The first summit of the Group of 20 major economies to be held in Japan is just a few days away. Leaders of major advanced and emerging economies will gather in Osaka on June 28-29, aiming to take concerted action on trade, the environment and other issues. On the sidelines of the summit, a number of bilateral meetings are planned that will have an impact on the global economy and world order. These articles explore the expected direction of discussions concerning major topics on the agenda.

The escalating trade conflict between the United States and China is casting a shadow over the world economy. One of the major focal points of the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka is whether leaders will be able to mutually recognize the conflict’s negative effects and agree to cooperate to shore up the economy.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

With U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to hold talks on the sidelines of the summit, attention is now focused on whether their talks will help ease tensions between the two countries.

Trump on Tuesday held telephone talks with Xi and revealed on his Twitter account that they would hold a bilateral meeting during the G20 summit. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV also said Xi agreed to meet with Trump.

The last U.S.-China summit was held on Dec. 1, 2018, following the G20 summit in Argentina. Trump had expressed his desire to hold a meeting with Xi at the G20 summit in Osaka as well. However, China was initially unclear on whether it would accept Trump’s invitation, prompting concern that no meeting would take place.

In any event, it remains to be seen whether the United States and China will work toward a compromise.

Trump made clear his goal of realizing his “America First” campaign promises, including reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China, at a rally on Tuesday to officially announce his reelection campaign. He emphasized his tough attitude toward China before supporters at the event.

On the other hand, China adamantly maintains that it will not compromise on important issues. Since May, when the U.S.-China trade conflict intensified, Chinese media have been repeatedly criticizing the United States to increase anti-U.S. sentiment among Chinese people.

Chinese newspaper The Global Times said in its editorial on Thursday that China should not be afraid to fight if it wants to win better terms in negotiations.

Trump will likely decide whether to impose a fourth round of punitive tariffs on Chinese products based on the outcome of his meeting with Xi in Osaka. The fourth round of tariffs will target an additional about $300 billion (about ¥33 trillion) of Chinese goods, including smartphones, toys and clothes. If the tariffs are imposed, the United States will have tariffs in place on almost all Chinese imports, and the world economy would inevitably be affected.

According to an estimate by Mizuho Research Institute Ltd., if the United States and China impose additional tariffs of 25 percent on all of each other’s imports, world economic growth would decline by about 0.7 percent. Growth is feared to decline by about 0.8 percent for the United States, about 1.9 percent for China and about 0.3 percent for Japan, the estimate said.

Ahead of the summit in Osaka, a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 members was held in Fukuoka on June 8-9. The meeting adopted a communique that said “trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” but avoided naming the United States and China. It further said they will “stand ready to take further action” in case of an economic slowdown.

Will the summit meeting be able to convincingly deliver the message that world leaders must share a sense of urgency and work toward sustainable growth of the world economy? Japan’s ability as chair of the summit will be put to the test.Speech

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