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G20 Recommendations to Bridge Gaps in Trade, Investment, Infrastructure

G20 Recommendations to Bridge Gaps in Trade, Investment, Infrastructure

Friday, 27 November, 2020 - 11:45
Bridging the gap in trade, investment and infrastructure was extensively discussed during the Riyadh G20 Summit (Photo: Fayez Nureldine, AFP)

As the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has led to new realities in trade, business and infrastructure around the world, the G20 had to come up with recommendations that lay out an agenda for new initiatives and channels that restore confidence in the post-Covid-19 phase.

The Saudi G20 Summit, which concluded on Sunday, underlined the group’s support for the multilateral trading system, stressing that efforts would be made to achieve a free, fair, comprehensive, non-discriminatory, transparent and stable trade and investment environment.

The final statement expressed the G20’s commitment to respond to recovery efforts in developing countries, especially with regard to the quality of the infrastructure for regional communication and the financing of sustainable development. It also stressed the priority to enable millions of workers to return to their jobs.

The G20 summit, chaired by Saudi Arabia, noted that investment in infrastructure was one of the engines of growth and prosperity, stressing that it was an essential factor in enhancing economic recovery.

In this context, Dr. Raja Al-Marzouqi, the head of the infrastructure investment team at the Saudi G20 Think Tank, told Asharq Al-Awsat that efforts focused on solving the gap between the supply and the demand.

He stated that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated the total volume of investments in the infrastructure, which are required to achieve the United Nations goals in than 112 countries, at $12 trillion from 2019 to 2030, which is approximately $1 trillion annually.

Al-Marzouki stressed the need to find proper mechanisms for the next stage, which is to improve the level of transparency, accountability and institutional building, and to provide the necessary funds to invest in infrastructure.

He emphasized the importance of using innovative tools in modern technology to reduce the costs of infrastructure.

“During the G20 meetings, we have discussed the relationship between government investment in infrastructure and overall economic growth; It was clear that there were challenges that weakened the efficiency of investment in infrastructure worldwide, leading to an increase in the rate of financial waste in public investment,” he explained.

According to Al-Marzouki, international and sectoral community organizations play an important role in improving the efficiency of investment in infrastructure and monitoring the implementation of the best international methods and practices to support the least developed countries.

For his part, economic expert Dr. Khaled Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the pandemic has led to a sharp decline in direct and indirect investment and a slowdown in the movement of trade.

Relying on local direct investments will create new platforms to achieve future growth, and will contribute to offsetting the slowdown that hit almost all economic activities during the current year, he emphasized.

The G20 Summit, under the Saudi chairmanship, discussed trade and investment, and sought to address issues related to policies aimed at strengthening the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a forum for negotiation, restoring and strengthening dispute settlement procedures, and affirming the continuation of supply chains and the flow of goods.

Dr. Saeed Al-Sheikh, the head of the working group on Trade, Investment and Growth of the G20 Think Tank, explained that today’s world trade was dominated by the escalation of protectionism and unequal opportunities to enter global value chains, in addition to legal systems that are not prepared for digital trade services.

This calls for ways to reform the WTO, especially with regards to the regulatory, administrative and legal aspects, he said.

According to Al-Sheikh, the working group presented several proposals that would regulate the reform of the WTO and provide the necessary flexibility at the organizational and administrative levels.

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