Policy coordination to be key challenge at G20 summit

09:17, June 25, 2010      

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At the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Toronto, achievements of an out-of-recession and slow growing world economy will be cheered. But more important to observe is that how governments deal with their differences or even conflicts in major economic or financial policies amid an uneven recovery.

Countries of G20, with their varied pace of recovery from the global financial crisis, will review conditions of the world economy and coordinate their macroeconomic policies at a summit this weekend in Toronto to secure the global recovery.

Issues like anti-protectionism, free trade and investment, and development in Africa etc will be discussed. But divergence among major economies on key issues of exit strategy or financial regulation reform will be the center of the summit.

Balance between exit and recovery

The top priority on the G20 Toronto Summit agenda may be that how to balance financial consolidation and protecting economic recovery in the post-crisis era. But it is the issue which Europe and United States agrees on least.

Troubled by sovereign debt crisis, many countries in the European Union have launched financial austerity plans in a bid to cut public spending and reduce fiscal deficit. EU leaders have made it clear that they believe delaying exit strategy will endanger the financial stability.

In a joint letter to G20 partners, EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU will stick to its financial consolidation targets in order to achieve a sustainable financial system. And if necessary, all EU members will take further steps to speed up consolidating their finances.

EU's move has triggered worries from the United States. The world's number one economy is concerned that EU members' conservative financial policies will hurt the world economic recovery. "Countries must put in place credible plans to stabilize debt-to-GDP levels and set a pace of consolidation that reinforces the momentum of growth," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, wrote in an opinion piece posted on Wednesday's The Wall Street Journal.

"We must demonstrate a commitment to reducing long-term deficits, but not at the price of short-term growth," they wrote. "Without growth now, deficits will rise further and undermine future growth."

Controversy on banking tax

The financial crisis demonstrated the urgency of global financial regulation reform. While it is widely agreed that there should be more transparency and higher standards in regulation the financial industry, countries have different mind-set on how to prevent future crisis.

EU leaders said they will push G20 partners to reach agreement on banking tax and financial transaction tax during the Toronto summit.

During the EU summit last week, leaders of EU members agreed to impose a banking tax, so that financial institutions will pay for their mistakes in the future instead of tax payers. EU said it will try to push for a global protocol under the G20 framework so that the new policy will not put European financial industry in a disadvantaged position.

But the proposal of banking levy has been rejected by Canada, the host of Toronto summit, and emerging countries like India and South Korea. Canada is expected to advance its position of no tax on banks during the summit.

Reform of international financial system

The economic crisis has had a significant impact on the developing countries and the most vulnerable. And governance reforms to enhance the credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been on the G20 agenda.

It is agreed on the G20 Pittsburg summit last September that IMF will shift at least five percent of voting quota from advanced countries to developing and emerging countries. As the World Bank has completed a similar switch in April, which increased developing countries' voting power by more than three percent, details of IMF quota reform are expected to be discussed during the Toronto summit, with a view to meeting the November 2010 deadline for agreement.

Source: Xinhua


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