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G20: World economic talks go South

  • February 23rd, 2014
  • Posted by EU Australia

G20 pic SydneyFinance Ministers of the leading 20 world economies, the G20, ended a meeting in Sydney, 23.2.14, with an agreement adopt a joint target for economic growth over the coming five years.

GROWTH PROSPECTS TO 2019?

G20 logoThey set it at an extra 2%, with some caution, noting that current economic circumstances were not a time for complacency, and that individual governments would have to attend to their own settings.

Made up of the European Union and 19 national states (of which four are EU members), plus central banking representatives and international agencies, the G20 has become a principal forum for economic decision-making since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.

The new Australian government at that time, under Labor, contributed actively and then successfully lobbied to get the chairmanship of the group for this year.

Following the change of government in Australia last September, to the Liberal Party coalition, the government has adopted an expansionist stance to be founded on tax cuts, relegating environmental concerns, as with climate change and protection of the Great Barrier Reef, to subordinate status  –  called “green tape”.

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, as chairman on the weekend, had called for the G20 to adopt a program for strong growth, with numerical targets, and favouring so-called structural measures, e.g. privatisation programs.

A joint statement says achieving growth would take “concrete measures”, more specifically to stimulate trade and investment.

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSNATIONALS, PLANNING FOR CRISIS

The Finance Ministers also debated the proportionalisation of funding for infrastructure between private and government sources; and proposals for ongoing monitoring and diagnosis of any new economic crisis, as a base for concerted action, as in the aftermath of the GFC in Europe, (raised by Christine Lagarde, managing Director of the International Monetary Fund).

They went further with collaboration on the growing problem of profit-shifting by transnational corporations, especially huge software firms with limited immovable assets — bricks and mortar. Those and other corporations have been seen as dodging among the tax laws of separate national jurisdictions, taking their profits in tax havens, and in fact paying derisory sums on vast returns. Apart from nominal micro-states, some of the ‘havens’ have been located in Europe; most often mentioned, depending on the business at hand: Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

BACKGROUND ON THE G20

G20 mapG20 members represent around 85 % of global gross domestic product, over 75 % cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population. (Australia is ranked as the 13th world economy).

The G20’s members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, European Union.

It has guest members: Spain as a permanent invitee; Myanmar, as the 2014 Chair of ASEAN (Association of South-east Asian Nations); Senegal representing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and in 2014 Singapore and New Zealand.

Main international agencies are the IMF, the Financial Stability Board, International Labour Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.

Regional bodies take part on  occasions, e.g. ASEAN, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), EAS (East Asia Summit), the Pacific Islands Forum, and Gulf Cooperation Council.

In 2014, the grouping has 30 meetings scheduled at various levels, nearly half in cities in  Australia, leading up to the Leaders’ Summit for heads of government, at Brisbane, 15-16.11.14.

Reference

DFAT, Australian Government, Canberra, The G20. http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/g20/, (23.2.14).

G20 Australia 2014, Home, Canberra. https://www.g20.org/  G20 Australia 2014, (23.2.14).

Daniel Hurst, G20 finance ministers agree global growth target of two percentage points, The Guardian, Sydney, 23.2.14. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/23/g20-finance-ministers-global-growth-target-two-percentage-points, (23.2.14).

Tony Moore, Homeless to get hotel rooms for G20, Brisbane Times, Brisbane, 21.2.14. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/homeless-to-get-hotel-rooms-for-g20-20140220-334il.html, (23.2.14).

Pictures G20

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