Trade and industry Minister Ebrahim Patel
Photo by: Creamer Media's Dylan Slater
Minister of trade and industry Ebrahim Patel said on Monday that heightened uncertainty from growing trade tensions was also placing a drag on an already fragile global economy.
This as Patel returned from Japan where he attended the two-day G20 Joint Trade and Digital Economy Ministers and the G20 Trade Ministers.
"Heightened uncertainty from growing trade tensions and measures is also placing a drag on an already fragile global economy. This follows long-standing concerns by many developing countries about the imbalances created by the outcome of the Uruguay Round," said Patel.
He also said that the G20 countries cannot respond to the challenges by dismantling the rules-based system and replace it with unilateralism.
"The use of the rules-based multilateral system, coupled with necessary reform of the WTO should ensure that the promise of increase trade does indeed and in reality benefit all countries and people. We need a greater commitment to development-oriented trade agreement," he said.
Patel and communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams jointly led a South African delegation to the joint meeting that discussed the interface between trade and the digital economy.
The G20 Trade Ministers meeting discussed current international developments in trade; the promotion of trade and investment that contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth; the reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO); and sound business environment that promotes market-driven investment decisions.
Patel said that the discussion on the digital economy must be development-oriented, promote inclusivity, innovation and the emergence of new technologies.
"No social or economic order is safe if it fails to ensure a fair distribution of its benefits in good times and the costs in bad times. We need a multilateral trading system that supports inclusive growth, and enables national authorities to pursue steps to deepen developmental outcomes," he said.
"South Africa believes that reform of the WTO should fundamentally be about enhancing development and inclusivity.”
Patel also added that South Africa proposed consideration of a full, revitalised and inclusive multilateral discussion on the digital economy. Reform must affirm the importance of the principle and practice of Special and Differential Treatment for developing countries.