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Road to G20 disunity paved with 'good intentions'

English.news.cn   2014-02-23 11:05:59

by Christian Edwards

SYDNEY, Feb 23. (Xinhua) -- The mettle of Australia's G20 presidency is being tested for the first time, as informal discussions and upbeat press briefings give way to critical, bilateral talks between finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's 20 strongest developing and advanced economies.

The G20 talks conclude Sunday, with a communique that should include strong reform commitments and an accompanying, revised global growth target -- if Australian Treasurer and G20 co-host Joe Hockey's fulsome descriptions of prevailing goodwill the delegates representing the world's 20 largest economies.

Hockey told reporters to expect a weekend of 'heavy lifting' as delegates prepared to meet behind closed doors and make good on the flurry of good intentions that have marked the opening encounters of Sydney's G20 hosting.

The Australian Treasurer has revealed in his high-profile role, rallying support for new and ambitious global growth targets and highlighting the collective goodwill among the 500 plus delegates.

"I have a great sense of hope that this G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting will be able to lay down a real and tangible framework for an increase in the growth of the global economy over the next five years." he told reporters on Saturday, repeatedly referring to the unity and goodwill that will 'lay down a real and tangible framework for increasing growth of the global economy in the next five years.'

However, when asked by reporters for a specific timetable to roll out a collectivized strategy, Hockey admitted that plans would not be finalized before the end of 2014.

The chasm between the hyperbole of 'good intentions' and the reality of challenges facing the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations - together represent 85 percent of a stuttering global economy has been largely glossed over during the lead-up to the release of an all-important communique on Sunday.

This has been a G20 rich with intangible generalizations, while failing to address the clear issues facing member states, namely the effect of uncoordinated withdrawal of stimulus packages on developing markets.

Instead, Hockey has praised the spirit of Sydney's G20 Presidency, perhaps hoping to generate exactly the kind of confidence and unity that is undermining global markets.

"There is a general mood of intention to deliver real outcomes, " he said.

But the challenges facing emerging economies are playing second fiddle to the cacophony of confidence that has been exuded by Australia's preoccupation with the prestige of its G20 Presidency.

Hockey's new and ambitious growth targets are largely inconsequential to emerging market nations. The critical issue of tapering -- the withdrawal of monetary stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve -- and its potentially devastating implications for developed and emerging economies, remains unanswered.

Arriving on Saturday, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told Xinhua that the Indian delegation remained focused on the need for greater transparency in the U.S. Fed's tapering strategy.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde endorsed Hockey's view of a 'no surprises' approach to global monetary policy -- a tacit reassurance that the U.S. Federal Reserve would not panic markets by uncoordinated stimulus withdrawal.

"About central bank coordination, there has to be a policy," Hockey said.

The voices of emerging nations from India to Indonesia have silently suffered vast and sudden capital outflows and losses to their currencies as a by-product of the Fed's so called 'taper.'

"I think if there is a no surprise policy in relation to monetary policy activity, and that central banks around the world have reasonable warning of what may be events that do create market volatility, then I think that's not unreasonable and I think that's what central bank governors are aiming for," he told reporters.

Hockey has sought - and won - the backing of Lagarde and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne - for an agreement on a revitalized growth target.

Playing out under near perfect blue Sydney skies, if Hockey's determination for Australia to capitalize on the global prestige of its G20 Presidency with a unified communique on bold new targets, fails to address the elephant in the room -- the coordinated tapering of the U.S. stimulus program -- then Sydney G20 will have missed a critical opportunity.

Indonesian Finance Minister Muhamad Chatib Basri said at the outset that the critical issue of Sydney's G20 meeting was the need to address and resolve the mysteries of the U.S. tapering program.

"It is very important to continue to communicate to discuss about the roadmap so that we in the emerging markets can prepare," Basri said, adding that it was uppermost in the minds of those G20 nations less concerned with the 'good moods' and 'intentions' on vigorous display in Sydney."

"Other emerging markets including India, South Africa, and Brazil also raised this same issue of the need for coordination," he said.

Editor: chengyang
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