SINGAPORE - Australia is urging the Group of 20 advanced and emerging countries to put more emphasis on boosting global trade in their proposals for economic growth, particularly in the wake of last week's collapsed World Trade Organization customs pact.
G20 leaders will meet in the Australian city of Brisbane in November, and as G20 president Australia wants countries to submit binding measures to raise collective GDP by an additional 2 per cent over five years. So far most of the proposals are narrowly focused on areas like competition policy and infrastructure.
"We would like to see more trade and employment measures," said Heather Smith, Australia's most senior G20 official during a briefing with reporters in Singapore on Monday. "It's about removing domestic barriers that will help facilitate trade". Smith said that Australia wanted to make the G20 focus more on trade issues rather than just expressing its support for other trade pact such as the Doha Agreement.
Last week the WTO failed to clinch a deal to standardize customs rules, which would have been the first global trade reform in two decades. Smith said that the deal's collapse raised questions about the WTO's long-term future. "On the one hand we all want to strengthen the WTO but on the other, how can you make progress when an agreement like this has been unwound?" she said.
"There are no winners from this outcome. For developing countries it will have an impact". Smith said that so far G20 countries have submitted around 700 measures to boost global growth, but many of the trade ones focused on existing or forthcoming free trade agreements. "We would like to see more beyond the focus on free trade agreements" she said.