G20 finance chiefs complete first step to address global imbalances

14:29, April 16, 2011      

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Ministers and central bank governors pose for a family photo during the G20 Ministerial Meeting of the 2011 International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, April 15, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's 20 dominant economies have completed the first step to address global economic imbalances, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said here on Friday.

"Agreeing on the indicative guidelines was a major step in the direction of establishing the right policies," Lagarde, co-chair of the second G20 Finance meeting under the French Presidency, said at a news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, D.C..

The move was a follow-up on the achievement of the G20 Paris Finance meeting in February, when ministers reached an agreement on a set of indicators to monitor global economic imbalances.

Those indicators include some internal factors, such as public debt and fiscal deficits, private savings rate and private debt, and some external factors, such as trade balance and net investment income flows and transfers. The new guidelines will decide how each of these indicators will be assessed.

"We agreed on a set of indicative guidelines that complete the first step of our work to address persistently large imbalances," the finance chiefs said in a communique. "We now launch the second step of this process with an in-depth assessment of the nature of these imbalances and the root causes of impediments to adjustment. "

The guidelines would be "a little bit tighter" for systemic countries, and France would be one of them, Lagarde added.

The communique said the finance chiefs will "ascertain for our next meeting the corrective and preventive measures that will form the 2011 action plan to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth."

The finance ministers and central bankers also had intensive discussions about the recent spike in commodity prices, especially of fuel and food, which the IMF and the World Bank identified as a major risk to the global economy, especially to low-income countries.

"Commodity prices face increasing pressures," said the communique. "We stressed the need for participants on commodity derivatives markets to be subject to appropriate regulation and supervision."

At the press conference, the French minister called for better transparency, better supervision, and position limitation to prevent overheating in those markets.

With respect to strengthening the international monetary system, the finance chiefs agreed to focus their work on assessing developments in global liquidity, a country specific analysis regarding drivers of reserve accumulation, and a strengthened coordination to avoid disorderly movements, according to the communique.

The group also vowed to strengthen the global financial safety nets, and enhance cooperation between the IMF and regional financial arrangements.

French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry Christine Lagarde speaks during a press briefing on the G20 Ministerial Meeting during the 2011 International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, April 15, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

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