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The G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting was held in Jaipur, India, on August 24-25, 2023.

The meeting focused on the future of trade and investment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The G20 reaffirmed the indispensability of a rules-based, non-discriminatory, and transparent multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core.

The challenges faced by global trade, such as increasing poverty and inequality were acknowledged. 

The G20 is committed to ensuring a level-playing field and fair competition, emphasising the role of trade and investment as engines of growth and prosperity. 

Ministers underscored the need for inclusive trade, encompassing women’s empowerment, gender equality, and socio-economic aspects of equality.

The G20 group said, “We reaffirm that a rules-based, non-discriminatory, fair, open, inclusive, equitable, sustainable and transparent multilateral trading system, with WTO at its core, is indispensable for advancing our shared objectives of inclusive growth, innovation, job creation and sustainable development.”

However, it is understood that there are significant challenges to achieving a truly equitable and sustainable global trading system. But the G20 members are still committed to working to achieve the necessary WTO reforms.

The importance of the WTO’s “Aid-For-Trade Initiative” is recognised, aiming to enable developing countries to effectively participate in global trade.

Trade and investment for resilient Global Value Chains (GVCs)

The G20 emphasises the importance of building resilient and inclusive GVCs that can withstand future shocks. One way to do this is to continue to grow free, fair and open markets, which will help maintain resilience across the board.

The G20 endorses a non-binding “G20 Generic Framework for Mapping GVCs”, aiming to identify vulnerabilities within GVCs and develop resilience strategies.

The G20 said, “We believe that GVCs are essential for global economic growth and development. However, they are also vulnerable to shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. We therefore commit to working together to build more resilient and inclusive GVCs.”

Integrating MSMEs in global trade

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are central to inclusive growth and development. But in recent years, there has been increasing hurdles for MSMEs in increasing their participation in world trade. 

In order for MSME’s to access information, financing, and markets, digital technology and the development of new tools needs to continue at a rapid pace.

“We believe that MSMEs are central to inclusive growth and development. However, they face disproportionate challenges while striving to increase their participation in world trade. We therefore commit to working together to facilitate the participation of MSMEs in global trade,” the G20 said in a statement.

Geopolitical issues

The war in Ukraine has had a significant adverse impact on the global economy. The G20 reiterated their national positions, with most members condemning the war in Ukraine. They stress the war’s immense human suffering and its exacerbation of global economic fragilities.

The G20 group said, “This year, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine, which has further adversely impacted the global economy. We condemn the war in Ukraine and call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

The ten principles: G20’s blueprint for trade

The G20 outlined a set of ten guiding principles for trade and investment:

  • Promote sustainable development through trade and investment.
  • Strengthen the multilateral trading system.
  • Ensure trade remains inclusive.
  • Reinforce resilient Global Value Chains.
  • Champion investment for sustainable development.
  • Enhance trade and investment in services.
  • Boost trade in goods.
  • Foster digital trade initiatives.
  • Create a conducive investment environment.
  • Prioritise transparency and predictability in trade.

The G20 recommends their leaders to consider the discussed priorities at the New Delhi Summit. 

Without international trade and investment, GVCs will have a hard time remaining resilient in the face of volatile geopolitical and economic events. When GVC are stong, MSMEs are brought into the global trade ecosystem, global growth and prosperity increases, and WTO reforms are adopted and strengthened.

The meeting concluded with a call for action to implement the agreed-upon commitments. 

The G20 ministers expressed confidence that the future of trade and investment can be shaped in a way that is inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.

The G20 group said, “We are confident that, by working together, we can shape the future of trade and investment in a way that is inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.”