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Leaders call for end to tariff war

Four leading finance ministers have called on the US and China to resolve their tariff war differences, saying: ‘Uncertainty over the global outlook is contributing to a slowdown in trade and manufacturing activity’.

The four, Australia’s John Frydenberg, Singapore’s Heng Swee Keat, Indonesia’s Sri Mulyani Indrawayi and Bill Morneau of Canada, signed a joint declaration published by the Australian Strategic Policy institute. Neither the US or China are mentioned by name but the inference is clear when the quartet say that ‘rising trade tensions are a challenge’.

Encourage cooperation

‘Deteriorating global trade conditions are affecting investor confidence, business spending and productivity,’ they add. ‘All of us must play a role in restoring the multilateral system that has contributed so much to our shared growth and prosperity over the past 70 years. As senior ministers, we speak out to affirm that we will use all our energies to encourage cooperation on the global challenges we face together.’

The ministers say the first step is to back a rules-based multilateral system to protect free and open markets because that will ensure stronger growth and greater prosperity for all.

Speaking in Washington on 20 September, US President Donald Trump said he wanted a trade deal with China but then linked it to wider concerns such as that country’s military might. He said he needed a ‘complete deal’ from president Xi Jinping, not a partial one covering only trade.

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