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Theresa May vows 'bold action' to build economy 'that works for everbody'

Published 05/09/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May (AP)
Prime Minister Theresa May (AP)

World leaders must take action to address people who feel left behind by globalisation and capitalism, Theresa May said.

The Prime Minister, who will launch a crackdown on tax dodgers and City fat cats later this year, said G20 leaders had agreed action was needed.

She said a "hands-off approach" was not enough, with "bold action" needed to stamp out corporate irresponsibility.

The G20 also agreed action aimed at addressing Chinese overproduction of steel, which has been blamed for job losses at British factories.

Mrs May pushed for action to recognise the wave of anti-globalisation feeling and stressed the need for world trade to benefit those who feel left out.

People's anger with corporate and political leaders has been a major factor in election results in Europe which have seen previously fringe parties prosper, the rise of Donald Trump in the US and the Brexit decision in the UK.

Speaking at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Mrs May said: "As we do more to advance free trade around the world, so we must do more to ensure that working people really benefit from the opportunities created by free trade.

"This discussion goes to the heart of how we build an economy that works for everybody.

"It's not enough just to take a hands-off approach, we need bold action at home and collective action abroad."

She said the UK was developing a "proper industrial strategy" aimed at delivering higher real wages and greater opportunities for young people, with infrastructure investments to help areas outside the South East enjoy the benefits of trade.

Her crackdown on "excessive corporate pay and poor corporate governance" would also involve giving employees and customers representation on company boards.

"Here at the G20 we have decided to do more to stop aggressive tax avoidance and to fight corruption," she said.

"We've also agreed to work together to address the causes of excess production, including in the steel market, and we will establish a new forum to discuss issues such as subsidies that contribute to market distortions.

"It is vital that we deliver action in all these areas if we are to retain support for free trade and the open economies which are the bedrock of global growth."

She said there was support around the table for her message about the need to address "the feeling in some people that globalisation has left them behind".

"Which is why I think we need to develop, not just in our terms in the UK - a country that works for everyone, including an economy that works for everyone - we need internationally to develop to make sure that the global economy works for everyone.

"And within that, that everyone recognises the benefits that free trade can bring."

She said a number of leaders, including Australia's Malcolm Turnbull - who has spoken of the need to "civilise capitalism" - were interested in the UK's message on corporate irresponsibility.

Despite China's role in dumping excess steel production on European markets, Mrs May did not raise the issue in her talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

A Number 10 official said: "It wasn't an issue that came up. We addressed that sort of area in the G20 in broader discussions and this was an opportunity to talk more about bilateral economic and trading relationships."

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