Did the Seoul G20 summit deliver?

World leaders pose for a 'family photo' before the start of the G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea on November 12, 2010. (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Author: Wendy Dobson, University of Toronto

G20 leaders remained focused on their global recovery agenda, at their Summit in Seoul, but as the sense of urgency in the crisis fades so too does the laser-like focus. The group’s diversity is showing and domestic issues are beginning to crowd leaders’ priorities. As well, it seems each new host feels compelled to lengthen the agenda, with the Koreans adding development and the French host in 2011 mooting its perennial summit favorite, reforming the international monetary system.

So was Seoul more than a talk shop? Read more…

Obama in Asia: Economic and trade priorities

President and Mrs. Obama visit New Delhi, on November 7-9, 2010. (Photo: US Embassy New Delhi)

Author: Charles W. Freeman III, CSIS

President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan follows similar whirlwind Asia trips by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. With the G20 meeting in Seoul providing the keystone of this marathon demonstration of the administration’s commitment to engagement with Asia, the president’s trip will take place against a backdrop of rising concerns in Asia about the frailty of the US and global economic recovery and US policy objectives and limitations to manage any new crisis.

At the finance ministers meeting in Gyeongju, Korea, in late October, Secretary Geithner and other participants sought to quell fears of a ‘currency war’ by pledging support for a strong dollar policy and committing not to succumb to temptations to devalue currencies for competitive purposes. Read more…

G20 and the global agenda: A bigger role for Asia

The Asian region is one of the world’s most dynamic and includes two of the world’s largest economies

Authors: Mahendra Siregar and Tuti Irman, Republic of Indonesia

The unprecedented level of policy coordination by G20 countries in response to the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 was instrumental in preventing the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. It is still too early to say that the crisis is over, but at least we can safely say that it could have been much worse if the G20 had not acted swiftly. This success was the most important reason why the Summit of Heads of State or Government in Pittsburgh decided that from then on the G20 would be the premier forum for international economic cooperation—an historic decision from the perspective of global governance as well as the role of Asia in the global economy.

Does the G20 offer a new approach to global governance? Read more…

Japan must support liberal international order

JATAWTF - Tokyo 2008

Author: Yoichi Funabashi, Asahi Shimbun

This month the Asia-Pacific region takes center stage in global diplomacy.

A Group of 20 summit meeting is being held in Seoul, followed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting in Yokohama.

U.S. President Barack Obama is also scheduled to visit India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan in November.

A number of pressing issues will need to be tackled at those forums. Delegates must figure out whether a new international order can be created that would move from the framework established after World War II in which the Group of Seven advanced economies managed the world economy, to one that includes newly emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa. Read more…

The G20 and International Monetary Fund reform

Author: Shinji Takagi, Osaka University

Reform of the International Monetary Fund has been a constant theme of all G20 summits since November 2008. Although the G20 has yielded some concrete results in coordinating macroeconomic policies and financial regulatory reform, the same thing cannot yet be said about the promised IMF reform.

In view of the role the IMF must play in the post-financial crisis world, the leaders at the first G20 Summit in Washington in November 2008 expressed a commitment to advance reform so as to increase the ‘legitimacy’ and ‘effectiveness’ of the IMF and instructed the finance ministers to review its mandate and governance. Read more…

Asians can think: A time for Asian leadership at the G20

China's President, Hu Jintao, centre left, and US President Barack Obama: the China-United States axis is at the centre of the reoriented configuration in international relations. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Authors: Barry Carin, CIGI, and Peter Heap, University of Victoria

Observing the G20 scene from a North American country with pretensions to an Asia-Pacific vocation, we are reminded that over 10 years ago, Kishore Mahbubani, Singaporean Ambassador, wrote the book ‘Can Asians Think?’ Mahbubani provocatively questioned Asian acceptance of Western leadership and paradigms, and Asian tolerance of the West’s condescending attitudes.

Prompted by Mahbubani’s insights, we wonder why Asians continue to acquiesce to outdated, ineffective global institutions designed by Westerners more than 50 years ago in very different circumstances. Read more…

China’s exchange rate: The elephant in the G20 room

The Chinese Renminbi will be key to discussions on global floating currencies. (Photo: Shiro Armstrong/EAFQ)

Author: Barry Eichengreen, Berkeley

As the G20 assembles in Seoul, it has a full plate. There is the need for continued progress on strengthening financial regulation – on getting countries to harmonise their still divergent approaches to regulatory reform and to push the Basel III reforms of capital adequacy through to their logical conclusion. There is the continuing inadequacy of international arrangements to wind up insolvent cross-border financial institutions. There is the need to coordinate monetary and budgetary policies so as to reconcile fiscal consolidation in some countries with the need for continuing policy support from others for what remains a less-than-certain recovery. There is the need for agreement on the global financial safety net, the pet project of the Korean hosts. There is the need to push ahead with quota reform at the IMF and to agree on reducing the number of European seats on the fund’s executive board.

No doubt the G20’s communiqué will touch on all these areas. But there is also the elephant in the room, namely China’s exchange rate. Read more…

Way through on global recovery

An advertisement for the G20 Seoul Summit 2010 in downtown Seoul on October 30th, 2010. (Photo: Flickr user 'A23H')

Authors: Shiro Armstrong and Peter Drysdale, ANU

The elevation of the G20 to a leaders’ summit represents a change to the international system of an order that can be compared with the establishment of the great postwar international institutions. The G20 is now the premier forum for global economic governance following its elevation to leaders’ level meetings after the global financial crisis. The United States has led a smooth transition in the locus of power from the G7/8 to the G20.

The membership of the G20 is recognition of the importance of Asia in the global system. Now Asia has this global platform can it deliver on its global responsibilities? Read more…

G20: Leadership need not only come from the G7

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the 2009L’Aquila G8 Summit: After the smaller group, will the G20 prove too unwieldy?  (Photo: Michael Gottschalk/AP/AAP)

Author: Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard

Korea has an opportunity to exercise historic leadership when it chairs the G20 meeting in Seoul. This will be the first time that a non-G7 country has hosted the G20 since the larger, more inclusive, group supplanted the smaller rich-country group in April 2009 as the premier steering committee for the world economy. With large emerging market and developing countries playing such expanded roles in the world economy, the G7 had lost legitimacy. It was high time to make the membership more representative. But there is also a danger that the G20 will now prove too unwieldy, in which case effective decision-making might then revert to the smaller group.

When countries like China and India used to demand a larger voice in world governance based on their large populations, they did not get very far. Read more…

Providing a voice to ‘excluded’ nations in the G20

Legitimacy, governance structure, voice and accountability remain questions for nations, like Pakistan, which do not have a seat at the G20 table. (Photo: Saood Rehman/EPA)

Author: Ishrat Husain, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi

The formation of the G20 grouping of finance ministers and central bank governors and their heads of state is indeed a significant improvement compared to the previous G8 arrangements. The dynamic changes in global economic output and international trade are adequately reflected in this expanded group. The inclusion of 10 emerging economies such as South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, South Arabia and Turkey in the consultative process has broadened the scope of the dialogue. but it still excludes 170 nations from direct participation in this forum.  Norway, one of the major donors to development programs, has protested that it has no voice within the group.

The questions of the legitimacy, representative character, governance structure, voice and accountability of the G20 remain and pose certain dilemmas for countries such as Pakistan which do not have a seat on the table. Read more…

Using the G20 to avoid currency war

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (R) speaks next to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke at the Financial Stability Oversight Council meeting at the Department of the Treasury in Washington, DC on October 1, 2010. (Photo: AFP/Yuri Gripas)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

It is now less than a month until the G20 Summit in Seoul. The agenda is firming up but unlike in the Toronto Summit, which was less ambitious and the coverage of which focused on protests in Toronto, Seoul is set to be a real test of what the G20 can deliver.

US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, has delayed publishing a US Treasury report on Chinese currency manipulation until after the Summit. This intensifies the focus on the exchange rate issue at the G20. Read more…

Opportunity for Asia and the G20

Volunteers on bicycle carry banners of G20 Summit in Korea in Seoul, South Korea, on May 10, 2010. (Photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Authors: Peter Drysdale and Soogil Young, Asia G20 Roundtable

The most important outcome of the G20 will be the reassurance of strong commitment from G20 leaders to macro-economic recovery strategies and to the structural changes needed for balanced growth and sustained development in the long term. As the most dynamic in the global economy, Asian economies have an especially important role in setting out the course ahead for re-balanced and sustainable growth.

The recovery of some industrial economies is still fragile and will require continuing expansionary measures, within the bounds of debt sustainability (which are a greater constraint for Europe). Read more…

The G20 after Toronto: Now for the hard part

President Barack Obama talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao following their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, on June 26, 2010. (Photo: White House/Pete Souza)

Author: Wendy Dobson, University of Toronto

The Toronto meeting of G20 leaders on June 26-27 was a stop on the road to Seoul. Leaders took a few significant steps forward but not enough has yet been accomplished to avoid another crisis and there is danger of renewed complacency. Much, therefore, is riding on the work that leads to decisions in Seoul.

Among its accomplishments, the Toronto meeting was a deadline that elicited progress on the key objective of restoring strong, sustainable, and balanced world growth. Read more…

How can Asia strengthen its voice at the G20?

(L-R) Chinese President Hu Jintao, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama join other world leaders for the G20 Summit 'family photograph' on June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Author: Pradumna B. Rana, RSIS, Singapore

The G20 summit is a process that is evolving and no one can predict exactly where it will end up. The group was self appointed the ‘premier forum for international economic cooperation’ and there remain important questions related to membership and agenda that need to be addressed. In Pittsburgh, US President Barack Obama announced that the G20 would replace the G8. Two G20 summits are planned for this year — in Toronto and Seoul in November. While the Toronto summit will take stock of the implementation of exit strategies from the expansionary macroeconomic policies, the Seoul summit has selected two additional longer term issues for discussion — financial safety nets to better insulate emerging markets from systemic instability, and actions to close the development gap, especially for the poorest. Issues related to climate change could also be addressed at the G20 summit.

So how should Asia respond? Read more…

The G8/G20 in Canada—what can we expect?

Police motorcade practice a few days before the G20 Summit in Toronto. (Photo: Flickr user 'Somewhere In Toronto')

Author: Wendy Dobson, University of Toronto

The G20 meeting this weekend in Canada has a heavy agenda and high expectations. Leaders face a serious challenge to demonstrate determination to follow through on the September 2009 Pittsburgh summit’s framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

Prior to that June 26-27 meeting Canada also chose to host a G8 side show. Its challenge is to avoid any appearance of being an executive committee meeting before the G20. Read more…