The finance chiefs of Australia, Canada, Singapore and Indonesia have banded together to call for an end to the US-China trade war as the long-running dispute roils markets and hampers economic growth.
"While we acknowledge that there are legitimate issues that must be addressed, the risks of collateral damage are growing," they said in a joint statement published in The Australian newspaper on Friday, warning that the post-war multilateral system was under threat. "We have a responsibility to safeguard the institutions that have led to our shared economic success."
The call comes amid mounting evidence that global economies are feeling painful effects from the dispute, instigated by US President Donald Trump. Manufacturing sectors have contracted around the world, including in the US, leading to some market optimism that American trade negotiators will be pressured to seek a deal with Chinese counterparts and end sanctions.
The four ministers on Friday used the op-ed statement to lay bare the challenges facing their economies.
"Uncertainty over the outlook is contributing to a slowdown in trade and manufacturing activity," the statement said. "We have seen a return of financial market volatility, currency instability and decreased capital flows to emerging economies. Dampened global trade conditions are affecting investor confidence, business investment and productivity. Growth has slowed and risks remain tilted to the downside."
Trump administration officials are said to have discussed offering a limited trade agreement to China that would delay and even roll back some US tariffs for the first time in exchange for Chinese commitments on intellectual property and agricultural purchases.
Group of 20 economies must take a greater role in countering the trade war and to prepare for worsening problems, the ministers said Friday.
"Harking back to its origins in the global financial crisis, the G-20 needs to continue to build mutual understanding and cooperation so it can uphold and support multilateral problem-solving in the event of another economic crisis," the statement said.
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