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…