Last year, global economic growth suffered a slight setback once more, against the backdrop of distress in some emerging market economies, a significant decrease in commodity prices, and ongoing risks and uncertainties in the financial markets. Geopolitical risks remain high in various regions of the world. The IMF’s latest reading of the global economy once again shows a weakening baseline. The ILO expects global unemployment to rise by 2.3 million in 2016. In September 2015, the WTO updated its forecast of global trade growth to a very modest 2.8% in 2015, with a similar number expected in 2016. The OECD has portrayed an “elusive growth” scenario, and we all agree that decisive action and a new policy mix are needed.
Against this backdrop, governments continue to focus on reforms and proactive measures in order to support recovery and ensure growth. Ambitious demand and supply-side measures, especially in the areas of labour markets and decent work, education, skills and training, can help to create more productive, more dynamic and more inclusive economies and societies. In the euro area, the growth-friendly policies of structural reforms and long-term fiscal sustainability without damaging social protection must be reinforced. In the US, the renewed increase in growth must be made sustainable by adequate economic, fiscal and monetary policy measures. Emerging market countries are challenged by a downturn in former growth rates and should reverse this trend by undertaking courageous reform measures.
Our common approach of international economic policy cooperation has mitigated the consequences of the crisis, brought progress as regards resolving global challenges, set new standards and fostered growth prospects. Both institutional and informal links between national governments, international organisations and other stakeholders have been strengthened in the course of this process. Building on the close cooperation with the current Chinese G20 Presidency in 2016, Germany is fully committed to using its upcoming G20 Presidency in 2017 to discuss key issues in economic, financial, climate, trade, social and development policy, as well as other current global challenges. We welcome the ongoing cooperation between the IMF, the World Bank Group, the ILO, the OECD and the WTO in the following areas in particular:
- Several international organisations have documented that for more than a decade, productivity gains have slowed down. This trend has been magnified by the crisis. We therefore welcome the ongoing efforts by many countries to enhance their productivity, raise employment and improve fiscal positions. Nevertheless, further efforts, especially with respect to youth employment, social inclusion, gender equality, structural reforms and growth-friendly consolidation, continue to be urgently needed. Boosting investment, innovation and digitisation, as well as the transition to Industry 4.0, are crucial as regards reaccelerating productivity. Equally, improving education and health systems, strengthening productivity, narrowing social divides and strengthening product and labour markets are important policy goals to be achieved by implementing an ambitious reform agenda.
- Efforts to promote decent work and inclusive growth, drawing on the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, must be strengthened with a special emphasis on better implementation of labour, social and environmental standards. The Decent Work Agenda is an integral element of the United Nations’ new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Concrete steps such as the G7 initiative on sustainable global supply chains, including strengthening the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the ILO Multinationals Declaration and the launch of the Vision Zero Fund in cooperation with the ILO, are examples of multilateral actions and tangible results aimed at preventing serious and deadly work-related accidents in global supply chains. Our goal remains to create good and safe work conditions, rising incomes and real prospects for all who want to work, while simultaneously promoting gender equality. The OECD’s Quality Jobs Framework and Inclusive Growth Initiative and the IMF’s work on growth and inequality can support these goals.
- Trade remains an important driver of global growth, development and employment. Trade policy cooperation and coordination thus remain essential. We welcome the results of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, in particular the decision to abolish export subsidies in the agricultural sector. We support the ongoing work post-Nairobi, which aims to resolve remaining issues and to explore new issues and methodologies. Many of these are best addressed through multilateral trade policy in order to create new growth and development opportunities on a global scale. Moreover, we welcome ongoing efforts to conclude new bilateral and regional free trade agreements. We welcome the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and expect significant progress in the negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in 2016. In order to complement the multilateral trading system, such arrangements should be open, transparent and comprehensive, and should minimise discrimination between members and non-members.
- Climate change and the protection of natural resources remain key challenges of our time. All international organisations are committed to combating climate change and promoting green growth, and to this end are cooperating within their mandates. The World Bank Group is leading efforts with all the multilateral development banks to increase climate financing. We welcome the new, comprehensive and ambitious climate agreement concluded at the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015 as an outstanding milestone of international climate policy. All international organisations are committed to supporting the targets of the Paris agreement and its successful and robust implementation through their activities.
- In September 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York. This Agenda successfully integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely the economic, social and environmental dimensions. It constitutes a unique and universal commitment to improving living conditions for all people, while sustainably managing the natural resource base and protecting the planet from degradation. We reiterate our commitment to implementing the Agenda ambitiously with the international community and institutions in order to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 at national, regional and global level.
- The scale of refugee flows is a matter of global concern. We welcome the very strong commitment to solving the crisis through a comprehensive set of international, European, regional and national measures. The aim is to improve prospects and living conditions for people in crisis regions and to significantly and sustainably reduce the unprecedented flow of refugees.