Al-Qasabi lauds efforts of trade and investment working group

G20 ministers vow to minimize impact of COVID-19 on global trade and investment


RIYADH — Trade and investment ministers from the G20 held a virtual meeting on Tuesday under the presidency of Saudi Arabia to boost trade and investment cooperation.

The ministers discussed recovery plans for international trade and investment hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The meeting got underway with the opening statement made by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qasabi.

During a virtual meeting held under the presidency of Saudi Arabia, the G20 trade and investment ministers vowed to do whatever it takes and to use all available policy tools to minimize the economic and social damage of the pandemic, restore global growth, maintain market stability, and strengthen resilience.

“We will continue to work to realize the goal of a free, fair, inclusive, non- discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment and to keep our markets open, and to assist in the recovery from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic,” the ministers said in a communiqué released by the G20 Saudi presidency.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih said in the meeting that the collective G20 response to COVID-19 had started to deliver early signs of a “resilient, and stable economic recovery.”

The ministers also said that they recognize the need to increase the sustainability and resilience of national, regional, and global supply chains and to expand production capacity and trade, notably in the areas of pharmaceutical, medical, and other health-related products.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi underlined the need for an open, fair, and rules-based multilateral trading system in order to support global economic recovery in these difficult times, adding that G20 will work together to strengthen the global trading system for the benefit of all.

The ministers called for fostering economic diversification, strengthening international investment, as well as encouraging international competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

“At this critical time, trade and investment must act as important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation, development and poverty reduction, to contribute to laying the foundation for a global economic recovery that leads to sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. We will continue to take joint actions to strengthen international cooperation and frameworks,” the ministers stressed.

The ministers also underlined the importance to carry out the reforms in line with the Riyadh Initiative on the future of the WTO and pledged their support for the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The trade and investment expressed their commitment to working actively and constructively with other WTO members to undertake the necessary reform.

Recalling the importance of maintaining focus on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of trade and investment in this regard, the ministers said: “We continue to endorse the ‘G20 Actions to Support World Trade and Investment in Response to COVID-19’ which we will continue to implement and recall our request that the Trade and Investment Working Group provide status updates.”

“We reiterate the importance that any emergency trade measures designed to tackle COVID-19, if deemed necessary, are targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, reflect our interest in protecting the most vulnerable, do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains, and are consistent with WTO rules.”

The ministers also highlighted the critical role that the digital economy and electronic commerce have played in helping sustain economic activity through the COVID-19 pandemic and in ensuring the continued operation of supply chains and delivery of essential goods and services.

They noted that the pandemic has underscored the challenge of the lack of access to the digital economy for many vulnerable citizens due to the persistence of the digital divide.

The ministers recognized the importance of continuing to foster women's economic empowerment with a view to achieving global economic recovery.