Minister Hoekstra at G20 summit: It’s better than Ever, but Clouds on the Horizon. Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra addressed in Buenos Aires on Sunday with colleagues from the 20 largest economies in the world about the economic situation.
According to Hoekstra, the atmosphere at the top is pleasant, despite the aggressive trade war.
“It is all hands on deck to keep talking to each other.”
The minister states that the summit is not just about negative messages.
“There is a double message here: in almost all countries of the world it is going well”,
explains Hoekstra, “But there are also dark clouds on the horizon.”
Earlier on Sunday, the provisional final declaration of the G20 already revealed that the countries in question are lobbying to keep talks about trade going, especially now that a trade war is threatening.
Staying in touch with one another is what Hoekstra is currently one of the most important points during this summit.
“It is good to hear where the other person comes from,” he says. But according to Hoekstra,
this G20 summit has more than made it clear that it is not acceptable for countries to impose mutual import duties on each other.
Due to the new import duties introduced by the American President Donald Trump this year, a trade war is about to happen.
In response to American policy, the European Union, Mexico and China, in turn, have introduced import duties on products from the US.
“A trade war is ‘lose-lose’, not in the interests of the EU, but also not in the interests of the United States, for example,” explains Hoekstra.
He points out that the system of free trade is, as it were, built by the US.
Hoekstra regularly refers in Buenos Aires to the pioneering role of the country.
“We can undoubtedly improve the current system”, he admits.
“But the core of the system of multilateral and trade agreements is of evident importance.”
Free trade is also essential for the Netherlands. “The Netherlands is an open and highly competitive economy,
but also volatile, and if it does not go well with trade in the world or the EU, we notice that.”
IMF director Christine Lagarde gave a presentation in Buenos Aires in which she explained the consequences of the tariff war for the countries concerned.
Trade restrictions reduce world trade by 0.5 percent according to Lagarde.
According to Hoekstra, she did not specifically address the situation in the Netherlands.
However, the Netherlands does support the two messages Lagarde issued at the top, whereby countries must jointly and permanently commit to a free trade,
but at the same time, it is also important to remember that it is specific to look carefully at what is required for a healthy economy.
“The economy is doing well, but you never know how long it will continue to go well,
and we must also continue to implement reforms because you know for sure that it will be less,” says Hoekstra.