China has announced that it will cooperate with other G20 countries to promote growth in global trade. World trade is expected to grow less than 3 percent in 2016.
Trade ministers from the world's top economies met in Shanghai, China, on Saturday for two days of discussions about trends in the global economy.
The talks, which come ahead of the China-hosted G20 summit scheduled for September in the city of Hangzhou, also included representatives from global organizations including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The meeting comes as China, which has been a key instigator of global growth for years, witnessed its GDPgrowth slump down to its slowest rate in a quarter of a century. China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said that this was part of a global trend as economic recovery remained feeble and global trade was "fluctuating at a low level."
"The world is hopeful despite the still difficult tasks which lie in front of us. But there is still great hope and opportunities contained in this," Gao said.
"China is willing to work with all parties with wisdom, courage and action," he added. Gao said that ministers would discuss ways to improve trade and work out global investment strategies, both among the G20 nations and also with other economies.
China, the world's largest trader in goods, saw its total trade fall 8 percent in 2015. Earlier in the year, the World Bank identified China's economic decline as a key factor in the sharp slowdown in global trade.
China as a symptom of a global trend
According to the WTO, trade is predicted to grow slowly at a rate of only 2.8 percent in 2016. The World Bank even forecast that number to be as low as 2.4 percent.
The UK's decision to start proceedings to leave the EU casts a long shadow over those numbers as well, with a global recession being one of the potential outcomes of the so-called Brexit vote.
WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said ahead of the talks that 2016 would mark the fifth consecutive year where trade growth remained below 3 percent - the weakest sustained level in 30 years. He stressed that there were "no immediate signs of significant change in the current trajectory for trade growth."
He also appealed for cooperation in the battle to spur trade.
"This is a time for governments to work together to see how trade can be used to boost growth, development and job creation," he said.
ss/tj (AFP, AP)