Japan: G20 summit to debate trade including WTO reform

The Group of 20 summit next week in Osaka will not take any steps that go against World Trade Organization rules, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2019

Japan: G20 summit to debate trade including WTO reform

  • Japan, which chairs this year’s G20 gatherings, will take a neutral stance in the US-China trade row
  • More ‘concrete’ discussions on trade policy will take place at the G20 Osaka summit

TOKYO: Substantial discussions on trade, including reform of the World Trade Organization, will likely take place at a summit of Group of 20 major economies next week in Osaka, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said on Wednesday.
Japan, which chairs this year’s G20 gatherings, will take a neutral stance in the US-China trade row and urge countries to resolve tensions with a multilateral framework, said Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for international affairs.
“With regard to differences (on trade) between the United States and China, Japan of course won’t take sides. We will also not take any steps that go against WTO rules,” said Asakawa, who oversaw the G20 finance leaders’ gathering earlier this month.
“Japan will continue to take a multilateral approach in promoting free trade,” he told a news conference.
China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, are in the middle of a costly trade dispute that has pressured financial markets and damaged the world economy.
Markets are focused on whether US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping can narrow their differences when they sit down at the G20 summit.
The bitter trade war has forced the International Monetary Fund to cut its global growth forecast and overshadowed the G20 meetings that conclude with the Osaka summit on June 28-29.
At the finance leaders’ gathering, the G20 issued a communique warning that trade and geopolitical tensions have “intensified” and that policymakers stood ready to take further action against such risks.
“The macro-economic impact (of the trade tensions) is an issue of concern,” Asakawa said, conceding it took considerable time for G20 finance ministers and central bank heads to agree on their communique’s language on trade.
More “concrete” discussions on trade policy will take place at the G20 Osaka summit, he added.
The row over trade appeared to spread to currency policy when Trump criticized European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s dovish comments as aimed at weakening the euro to give the region’s exports an unfair trade advantage.
Asakawa rebuffed the view the Bank of Japan’s massive stimulus program could also provoke the ire of Trump.
He also said the G20 shared an understanding that members would accept any exchange-rate moves driven by ultra-easy monetary policies as long as the measures are not directly aimed at manipulating currencies.
“The BOJ’s ultra-easy policy is aimed at beating deflation, not at manipulating exchange rates. That’s understood widely among the G20 economies,” he said.
Fears of the widening fallout from the trade war have heightened market expectations the US Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates this year. Draghi said on Tuesday the ECB will ease again if inflation fails to accelerate.
The dovish tone of other central banks has piled pressure on the BOJ, though many analysts expect it to keep policy steady at least at this week’s rate review.


Key to success is passion: PepsiCo official

“I always think success is married with passion,” Simon Lowden said, adding that he likes to get involved with ideas that excite him
Updated 14 November 2019

Key to success is passion: PepsiCo official

  • Lowden was speaking at a session titled “100 years is a long time: Preparing for multiple shifts.”

RIYADH: The key to success is being passionate about what you do, Simon Lowden, chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo, told a brainstorming session at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday.

“I always think success is married with passion,” he said, adding that he likes to get involved with ideas that excite him.

“I started my life in a small farming village, went to London to attend university, joined PepsiCo … and now I run our sustainability agenda,” he said. “This made me rich as a person, and I did things I really enjoyed.”

Lowden was speaking at a session titled “100 years is a long time: Preparing for multiple shifts.”

Other panelists included Dave Brooke, vice president of client solutions at Dell Technologies; Kevin Gaskell, an international speaker on leadership and business performance; Deloitte CEO David Sproul; and Nancy Yammout, general director of the NGO Rescue Me. The session was moderated by Lebanese journalist and politician Naufal Daou.