G20 trade and investment ministers meet this week to discuss sustainable economic growth

The ministers will look at plans to support reforms to the World Trade Organisation and multilateral trading systems

Containers are stacked at the port of Jebel Ali, operated by the Dubai-based giant ports operator DP World, in the southern outskirts of the Gulf emirate of Dubai, on June 18, 2020. - The chairman of DP World said it is "preparing for the worst" with the full impact of coronavirus to hit in coming months, as global trade suffers its worst blow since World War II.
The firm and its subsidiaries are a major source of cash for the emirate's economy, one of the most diversified in the oil-rich Gulf but mired in a long malaise. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Trade and investment ministers from the world’s 20 largest economies will meet this week to discuss trade policies to boost inclusive and sustainable economic growth amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

G20 ministers will also deliberate on ways to support the necessary reforms of the World Trade Organisation, the G20 said in a statement late on Saturday evening.

These discussions will focus on improving the international competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), increasing economic diversification and strengthening international investment, the G20 said.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce Majid Al Qasabi and Minister of Investment Khaled Al Faleh will lead the September 22 meeting. The kingdom holds the rotating presidency of the G20 this year.

Progress made on the organisation’s action plan on supporting world trade and investment in response to Covid-19 will also be discussed during the online session.

In May, the G20 laid out short and long-term responses to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus that included a plan to support "the necessary reform of the WTO and the multilateral trading system, build resilience in global supply chains and strengthen international investment”, the ministers said at the time.

Short-term collective actions recommended by the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group include removing trade barriers, facilitating trade, improving transparency, enhancing the operation of logistics networks and supporting MSMEs.

The pandemic has brought the global trade, travel and tourism sectors to a halt in the first half of the year, tipping the world’s economy into a recession, the deepest since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Global trade is expected to decline 27 per cent in the second quarter of this year, compared with the previous three months, according to data by the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Global production and manufacturing output are set to decline by 9 per cent compared with a year ago, UNCTAD said in May.