ANKARA – Japan urged China on Friday to tackle structural challenges to deal with growing uncertainty about its economic outlook at a meeting of finance chiefs from the Group of 20 economies, Japanese officials said.
Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters he urged China to address issues such as excess investment, the social security system and nonperforming loans in the banking sector during the first day of the G-20 talks in Ankara.
China agreed on the need for such reforms, according to one official with the Japanese delegation.
Aso said he called on Beijing to take a cautious approach in its economic management and ensure communication with market participants.
According to one Japanese official who asked not to be named, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, made comments during the session that likely referred to a stock market bubble in China as “having burst.”
The G-20 officials began the two-day meeting in the Turkish capital to discuss concern over a global economic slowdown mainly focused in emerging nations as the Chinese economy decelerates.
The meeting comes as global markets have seesawed following China’s move last month to devalue the yuan. It also comes ahead of a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve over whether to raise interest rates for the first time since the eruption of the global financial crisis.
On the sidelines of the talks, Aso and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew discussed the need to quickly strike a deal on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership pact with 10 other countries, Aso told reporters.
The U.S. Treasury Department said Lew told Aso he is “hopeful that TPP negotiations would conclude as soon as possible.”
Also on the sidelines, Lew called on his Chinese counterpart, Lou Jiwei, to accelerate the transition from export- and investment-led economic growth to a greater reliance on personal spending, according to the U.S. government.
China told the session that it sees a need for such reforms, the unnamed Japanese official said.
Aso told reporters: “I told the meeting that it is necessary to closely watch various movements such as the outlooks for economies in emerging countries, including China and Asia overall.”
Aso also emphasized that the impact of any Fed interest rate hike must also be considered.
Concerns are growing over possible knock-on effects of the decelerating Chinese economy on emerging nations that already face the risk of fund outflows if the Fed decides to hike rates.
Aso also told participants in the G-20 talks that despite the Japanese economy’s contraction in the April-June quarter, the government expects a moderate economic recovery, driven by an increase in personal consumption and capital investment on the back of an improvement in personal income and corporate performance.
Aso pledged to restore Japan’s fiscal health despite the economy being saddled with a huge national debt that is more than double the size of gross domestic output.
Much of the focus at the meeting was placed on the current conditions and prospects for the slowing Chinese economy.
Selloffs in global stock markets were triggered in August as the yuan devaluations stirred fears the world’s No. 2 economy may be in worse shape than previously thought.
Aso said the G-20 participants were expected to mention issues related to the Chinese economy in a joint communique they were set to release as the wrapped up talks Saturday. It was premature to discuss details about the planned statement, he added.
Prior to the meeting, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said that the discussions are likely to focus on emerging economies, including China.
“We expect to hear explanations” from China on such issues as currency reform, Kuroda told reporters.
The G-20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.