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Regain unity of G20 countries to sustain global economic growth

The Yomiuri ShimbunFor sustained growth of the world economy, it is vital for each country to cooperate in tackling issues such as the promotion of free trade. It is significant for the Group of 20 leaders to have confirmed the importance of that.

The summit of the G20 major economies has ended.

On trade, which was a focal point of the summit, the leaders’ declaration stated that each G20 country would “strive to realize a free, fair, nondiscriminatory, and transparent trade and investment environment.” The leaders also agreed on the reduction of marine plastic litter, which causes pollution in the oceans. It deserves recognition that the leaders made certain achievements at the summit.

With regards to the World Trade Organization, the leaders agreed on the need to reform it.

The WTO assumes the responsibility of settling disputes among its member countries over tariffs and industrial subsidies. But it has been losing this function, stoking discontent among a number of countries. The United States, in particular, has been critical of the WTO, saying that it has left China’s unfair trade practices intact. Discussions should be advanced by taking advantage of the latest agreement on reform.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking at a press conference as the chair of the summit, said that Japan put emphasis not on drawing attention to differences among member countries but on finding common ground.

The handling of the Paris Agreement, an international framework of measures to fight global warming, was symbolic. The leaders’ declaration managed to be concluded by reaffirming members’ commitment to its full implementation, while at the same time taking into account the United States, which has declared its withdrawal from the accord.

It is noteworthy that the G20 leaders reached an agreement on crafting international rules on the flow of digital data.

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A massive amount of data is being exchanged across borders, through online electronic commerce and so forth. The utilization of such data will lead to new business opportunities but its use will also make it necessary to take action to protect personal information and ensure safety. There would be no dissenting opinion to a course of action taken to establish relevant rules.

This is where things become critical.

While the United States, a country with a number of IT giants, is cautious about having stringent regulations adopted, China, under the state’s leadership, is regulating its cross-border data transfers. The European Union revolves around the protection of privacy. It is not easy for them to come to terms.

Countries also differ greatly over how globally operating IT firms and the like should be taxed. Tenaciously exploring ways to find a realistic solution is called for.

G20 meetings began with the objective of jointly tackling the financial crisis following the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The G20 major economies, which together account for more than 80 percent of the global GDP, should go back to the starting point and regain their unity. Japan should play a leading role in helping the G20 achieve this goal, while pursuing its own national interests.

How should the United States, a country that attaches importance to bilateral negotiations, which often make it easier to get its point across, be retained within a framework of multilateral talks? Japan’s ability will also be put to the test.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 1, 2019)Speech



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