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G20 still struggling with Hockey's target

AAP logoAAP 24/07/2016 By Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent

At the time it was a rare deal among the world's biggest economies, but two years on it still seems like herding cats.

Former treasurer Joe Hockey's agreement from the G20 in 2014 to pursue measures to lift world economic growth by an additional two per cent remains to be seen.

A G20 finance ministers meeting in China at the weekend again vowed to lift economic growth through monetary, fiscal or structural measures.

They also agreed to resist all forms of trade protectionism, an issue that has risen in prominence after US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump discussed restricting access to American markets.

Mr Hockey's Liberal successor, Scott Morrison, says the free movement of trade remains critical.

"We need to redouble our efforts to continue to pursue those trade objectives and those open market objectives," he told global broadcaster CNBC on Monday.

It comes at a time when the International Monetary Fund again has been forced to cut its global economic growth forecasts, due to the uncertainties flowing from Britain's surprise decision to leave the European Union and accompanying financial market volatility - events Mr Hockey could not have envisaged.

"Lacklustre growth of the post-crisis era continues, with weak demand in advanced economies and difficult transitions to a self-sustained growth model in many emerging markets," IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in her post-G20 meeting statement.

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh agreed these are challenging global times but questioned whether Australia has made the right calls to get a growth boost.

"It's clear the promises Joe Hockey made on growth a couple of years ago are not going to come true," Dr Leigh said.

Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor believes a lack of business investment is hurting the global economy.

"It has been a battle since the global financial crisis, we saw a sharp drop in business investment and its been sluggish ever since," he said.

Countries across the world needed to do their bit to get investment going again and that was why the federal government took a package of business tax cuts to the national election.

Mr Taylor said infrastructure investment also needs to be encouraged, not just in Australia but a across the world.

To help this cause, the Sydney-based Global Infrastructure Hub, created after Australia's 2014 G20 presidency, has developed a new, interactive online tool to assist developing economies better assess potential infrastructure investment projects.

"This tool will reduce the time wasted negotiating infrastructure projects and ensure that the paying public gets a fair deal," its head Chris Heathcote says.

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