The annual G20 summit kicked off amid heightened global anxiety over a US-China trade war and escalating tension over Iran’s nuclear commitments. It is feared Iran will overshadow talks on other issues such as climate and the digital economy. But all eyes are on US President Donald Trump who has threatened China’s President Xi Jinping with additional tariffs on Chinese goods.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The trade relations between China and the US are difficult, they are contributing to the slowdown of the global economy.
“In our talks, both with the U.S. and the Chinese authorities I was drawing their attention to the harmful impact this controversial matter is creating.”
Mr Juncker added the EU are working closely with China, Japan, the US and others to reform the WTO and create a level playing field.
European Council President Donald Tusk also expressed concern about Iran potentially breaching its nuclear commitments, saying the EU would continue to monitor Tehran’s compliance.
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Mr Tusk said: “We strongly urge Iran to continue the full implementation of all its commitments under the nuclear deal, and we take very seriously the possibility of any breach of its commitment.”
The EU leaders concern comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged leaders from the 20 major economies to support “free, fair and indiscriminate”.
Abe expressed “deep concerns” over the current landscape of global trade.
He added Japan, as a flag-bearer of free trade, would strongly promote improvement in a multilateral trade system and negotiations over agreements on economic cooperation.
Mr Abe said: “Today, I want to discuss with leaders measures to further enhance momentum towards reform in WTO.”
Oil prices are also likely to dominate discussions as prices reportedly fell ahead of the meetings, according to The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Since there are no expectations of a truce between the US and China, Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ) believe this will set the scene for the OPEC meeting a couple of days later.
ANZ said: “Even if US-China trade talks turn positive, we think OPEC will extend the current production cuts until the end of the year. However, deeper cuts look unlikely, given the rising supply issues.”