France's Sarkozy outlines priorities for G8, G20

09:17, January 25, 2011      

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In a New Year greeting to around 300 foreign diplomatic officials and journalists at the Elysee Palace on Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkzoy outlined priorities for upcoming G8 and G20 summits in 2011 as France takes over the presidency of both fora.

Above all, reform of the international monetary system (IMS) will be placed on top of G20 priorities. France regards this reform as "collective responses" to dysfunctions in international monetary relations against the backdrop of "the rise of large emerging markets," the Elysee Palace said in a press release.

"I will have the opportunity to meet with (Chinese) President Hu Jintao for the first seminar on reform of the international monetary system in China at the end of March," Sarkozy said.

The seminar, which is expected to garner leading international experts on monetary affairs, will be the first open and formal discussion on this issue within the G20 framework. But Sarkozy admitted he does not expect a sea of changes or firm conclusions.

Referring to China and the United States both as "great nations," the French president blunted criticism on the U.S. dollar. "... dollar will remain as the predominant currency, but dominant doesn't mean the single currency or the only currency," he said. But he added that it is "pointless" to "challenge U.S. dollar."

France has no favor for a fixed exchange rate and it is " undeniable" that the emerging countries will lead to a new currency emerging on behalf of them, Sarkozy stressed, taking into account the presence of a lot of "common interests" between the United States and China.

Sarkozy pressed for the IMS reform. "Once we begin to put this issue on table, we are be able to draw conclusions, even it will take a lot of time."

Reining in major commodities' volatile prices will also be high on France's G20 agenda, especially those concerning energy and agricultural goods. Recalling changes in the energy and agricultural sectors in the past 20 years, Sarkozy said that " France has to defend a common agricultural policy."

Raising the topic of financial transactions tax once again in his speech, Sarkozy said France still favors this tax and reckons it as useful to dissuade financial speculation and create resources for development. France said that it has won support from Germany, Japan and the Britain on the tax.

The United States has openly opposed the French initiative. Sarkozy said he welcomes further debate on various "innovative financial" instruments and transparency on fiscal policies.

Sarkozy also underscored global governance as another focus during France's G20 presidency which will last until December 2011.

In addition, the French president also noted other issues on the G20 agenda list, including climate change, environment, African countries' vital role, improvement on social dimension, developed countries' promise to aid the less developed countries.

As for its G8 presidency, Sarkozy placed the issue of internet civilization in a prominent position. "The new G8 has to have a public debate at the political level," and furthermore, France has gotten the U.S. support to "talk formally about internet in G8," Sarkozy said.

It's "high time (for G8) to trust each other build a model by putting together our know-how, listen to what major internet operators have to say. I'm sure they are very responsible ... to create a civilized internet," he added.

France has announced to gather famous website founders and bloggers from G8 states on the sidelines of the G8 summit in 2011, aiming to upgrade itself as a leading digital powerhouse by 2012.

Source: Xinhua

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