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G-20 puts onus on US and China to solve their trade row

The ministers' statement says trade, geopolitical tensions have 'intensified', raising risks to improving global growth

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Mr Moscovici hopes the US and China can reach an agreement at an upcoming G-20 leaders' summit in Osaka.

Tokyo

THE Group of 20 finance ministers' statement that trade tensions have "intensified" puts the onus on the United States and China to solve their trade dispute, European Union Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said on Monday.

Mr Moscovici, who spoke in Tokyo after attending the G-20 finance ministers' meeting in Fukuoka over the weekend, expressed hope that the United States and China could reach an agreement at a G-20 leaders' summit in Osaka later this month.

The G-20 finance ministers' statement issued on Sunday said trade and geopolitical tensions have "intensified", raising risks to improving global growth.

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"The road map is set to go further, and this means two things," Mr Moscovici told a news conference.

"First is reforming the World Trade Organization; second is finding bilateral solutions. There we expect the United States and China to find a way to get to an agreement. Maybe the Osaka summit will be an important moment for that."

The United States and China have levied tit-for-tat tariffs on each other's goods as US President Donald Trump's administration renegotiates trade relationships to address practices it considers unfair.

After fiery negotiations that nearly aborted the issuance of a communique, finance ministers and central bank governors repeated tepid support for a rules-based multilateral trading system. The communique stopped short of calling for a resolution of the US-China trade conflict.

The final language excluded a proposed clause to "recognise the pressing need to resolve trade tensions", which was dropped from a draft debated on Saturday. The deletion, which G-20 sources said came at the insistence of the United States, shows a desire by Washington to avoid encumbrances as it increases tariffs on Chinese goods. The statement also contains no admissions that the deepening US-China trade conflict is hurting global growth.

The communique was the best outcome possible from the EU's perspective, because it used the word "intensifying" to describe the fraught stand-off between the world's two largest economies, Mr Moscovici said.

The widening fallout from the US-China trade war has tested the resolve of the group to show a united front as investors worry if policymakers can avert a global recession.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping would meet at a June 28-29 G-20 summit in Osaka, but the meeting has not been confirmed by China.

The planned meeting was said by Mr Mnuchin to have parallels with the two presidents' Buenos Aires meeting on Dec 1, when Mr Trump was poised to increase tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods.

Mr Trump took that step in May and will be ready to impose similar 25 per cent tariffs on a remaining US$300 billion list of Chinese goods around the time of the Osaka summit. REUTERS