G-20 countries pledge to protect against Brexit shock


BEIJING (AP) — Global finance officials promised Sunday to protect the world economy from the shockwaves of Britain’s European Union referendum and to boost sluggish growth.

Envoys of the Group of 20 major economies also rejected trade protectionism, an issue that has risen in prominence as U.S. Republication presidential candidate Donald Trump stirs unease with talk about restricting access to American markets.

The gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors from the United States, China, Britain, Germany and other governments took place against a backdrop of a weak global recovery that was rattled by Britain’s vote to leave the EU and trade tension over Chinese exports of low-priced steel.

The British vote “increased global economic uncertainty,” said a joint statement by the officials, who were meeting in Chengdu in western China.

“G-20 members are ready to actively respond to the potential economic and financial impact brought by the British referendum,” said the statement. “In the future, we hope to see Britain as a close partner of the EU.”

On Friday, the director-general of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, called for quick action to end uncertainty about the British-EU split. She said that turmoil prompted the IMF to cut its forecast of this year’s global growth by 0.1 percentage point.

Sunday’s statement promised to use “any and all policy instruments” to achieve “strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth objectives.” The governments promised to strengthen communication and cooperation but announced no joint action, as some financial traders had hoped.

“We are taking action to boost confidence and promote growth,” said the statement.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said ahead of the meeting that it was not the right time for coordinated action similar to that in 2008-09 following the global crisis because economies face different conditions.

“Overall, the general sense was that the outlook remains uncertain,” Lew said in a statement Sunday. “There is now broad consensus that what the global economy needs is growth — not austerity — and the discussions here have focused on how best to achieve that outcome.”

The envoys also pledged to avoid devaluing currencies to boost exports.

“We will oppose all forms of protectionism,” their statement said.

Trump, who was named the Republican Party’s nominee for president on Friday, setting up a race with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has called for measures to protect American industry, though he has given no details.

National leaders of the G-20 economies are due to meet in September in Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai.

The G-20 statement also cited the importance of reducing excess production capacity in steel and other industries that has led to a glut of supply and depressed prices. That is a source of tension between China and trading partners that accuse Beijing of exporting steel at improperly low prices, hurting competitors and threatening a loss of jobs.

Beijing has announced plans to shrink its coal and steel industries, eliminating millions of jobs. The United States has imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel and European officials have launched trade probes.

Lew emphasized U.S. interest in seeing progress on that during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Lou Jiwei, according to Lew’s department.

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