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G20 summit overcomes tough obstacles

2014-11-24

By Liu Zongyi Source:Global Times.

 

The ninth G20 summit concluded its two-day meeting in Brisbane, Australia Sunday. Sustaining growth, creating jobs, promoting development and buoying confidence were the central task of the gathering, attended by government heads from 20 countries.

 

According to the communiqué, the leaders put forward growth targets for the world economy in the next five years as well as specific and feasible action plans to boost development and employment, which was the biggest highlight of the summit this year.

The proposal of the targets symbolized that G20 has made a formidable step from a crisis-responding mechanism to an advisory committee for the world economy.

 

Since the outburst of the global financial crisis in 2008, the G20 has become a universally recognized primary platform on global economy. Nevertheless, it has been embroiled in a difficult transformation since the end of 2010 when there were slight signs of economic recovery.

 

The G20 failed to strike substantial progress in dealing with critical issues at its meetings in the past several years, except a few achievements in international cooperation on anti-corruption, taxation system reform and financial system regulation.

 

Previous G20 summits constantly repeated consensuses on ramping up strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth as well as financial system reform but lacked concrete actions.

 

It was difficult for G20 member states that have been witnessing widening gaps in political and economic interests since the economic recession to reach an agreement.

 

For the US, which has been playing a dominant role in international governance, the G20 has lost its value in managing crisis. Washington is reluctant to see its international financial hegemony fading away and therefore the US Congress has vetoed the reform plans of the IMF for several years in a row. The greatest power is also unwilling to assume international responsibility for its monetary policy normalization which is a core concern of emerging economies.

 

The G7, with Russia expelled, still dominates the agenda setting of G20 summits in a bid to safeguard their collective hegemony in the global economic sphere. And at the current stage the BRICS countries can hardly shake the powerful role of the G7.

 

Geopolitical tensions posed a severe disruption for economic issues discussed at G20 meetings. During the past few years, geopolitical contradictions in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Europe, including the conflict between the US and Russia on the Ukraine crisis and the threat of rising terrorism, have further deteriorated the prospect for global economic growth. The 2013 G20 summit held in Russia`s second largest city of St. Petersburg was severely hampered by the Syrian crisis.

 

The stagnant Sino-US relations also exerted a negative impact on previous summits. As the two biggest economies in the world, Beijing and Washington failed to achieve consensus on plenty of issues.

 

The US has been sparing no effort to promote the exclusive Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, seeking to establish new international investment and trading rules which exclude China and other emerging economies.

 

Meanwhile, the negotiations surrounding the WTO were bogged down in plight, bringing huge challenges to the global free trade system. Consequently the G20 has lost its impetus.

 

The Brisbane summit has made some remarkable achievements mainly because some of these factors listed above have been improved. Australia has started to actively communicate and coordinate with China and the US once taking over the G20 presidency.

 

Moreover, the success of the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum from November 7 to 12 in Beijing has laid a solid foundation for greater achievements in Brisbane.

 

The development of a new type of great power relations between China and the US has also created a favorite scenario for the accomplishments at the G20 summit this year.

 

There are, however, still obstacles crimping the development of the G20. The appeal by China and other emerging economies to reform the international economic system and implement the IMF quota reform flunked because of Washington`s objection. And this conundrum will be hard to resolve given the political landscape after the US midterm elections.

 

Moreover, geopolitical risks will continue to hinder international economic cooperation. The US, Japan and Australia held a meeting during the G20 summit, agreeing to strengthen economic and security cooperation based on Washington`s "pivot to Asia" strategy to contain China. Russian President Vladimir Putin was given the cold shoulder by Western leaders during the summit.

 

The Brisbane conference announced that China would host global leaders for the 2016 G20 summit, which is both an opportunity and a challenge for this Asian powerhouse.

 

As the world`s second largest economy, China has provided public goods to the rest of the world through the APEC and the G20 meetings this year, demonstrating a great image of being a responsible power. It will be bound to help turn the G20 mechanism to an advisory committee for the global economy.

 

 

The author is a visiting fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University.

 

Weibo: @人大重阳  Wechat official account: rdcy2013 

 

Key Words: Zongyi Liu  

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