G20 Trade and Investment ministers have expressed concern with the serious risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic to all countries, pledging to continue cooperation to support the recovery of international trade and investment.
“We will continue to take joint actions to strengthen international cooperation,” the ministers said on Tuesday following their virtual meeting under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia.
“We recall the importance of maintaining focus on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of trade and investment in this regard,” they said.
“Trade and investment must act as important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation, development and poverty reduction, to contribute to laying the foundation for a global economic recovery that leads to sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth,” the statement added.
In June, the G20 pledged more than $21 billion to fight the coronavirus.
“We have met on two previous occasions this year for extraordinary virtual meetings to ensure a coordinated response to the impact of COVID-19 on global trade and investment and the global economy,” said Tuesday’s statement. “We remain gravely concerned with the serious risks posed to all countries, particularly developing and least developed countries, and notably in Africa and small island states.”
The ministers highlighted the critical role of digital economy and electronic commerce in helping sustain economic activity through the pandemic and in ensuring the continued operation of supply chains and delivery of essential goods and services.
They also recognized the importance of continuing to foster women’s economic empowerment with a view to achieving global economic recovery.
In their meeting, the ministers stressed that the effectiveness of the multilateral trading system depends on the implementation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules by all members, as well as their respective enforcement.
They expressed commitment to working actively with other WTO members to undertake the necessary reform of the organization.
“We recognize that this reform should improve the functions of the WTO,” they said.
The ministers shed light on boosting the international competitiveness of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), saying "they play a critical role in the our economies, employing between 40 to 90 percent of the labor force, accounting for 95 percent of firms across the world."
On economic diversification, they said it reduces vulnerability to economic shocks and remains an important goal for all countries, particularly developing and least developed states.
The ministers added that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is key for economic growth, job creation and capital accumulation.