Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Strengthening Global Economy Tops APEC, G20 Agendas

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.

Washington - Fostering global economic growth through the Group of 20 (G20) advanced economies is fundamental to a lasting recovery at home, says a senior Obama administration official.

Economic policy figures strongly in President Obama's final two stops of a four-nation Asian trip that begins November 6 in India, with a visit to Indonesia before the G20 meeting in South Korea and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Japan. In addition to economic talks, the president will hold one-on-one talks with world leaders on the sidelines of both meetings.

The president will attend the G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, November 11-12 and then the annual meeting of APEC in Yokohama, Japan, November 13-14.

Presidential adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during a November 1 briefing on the president's travel to Asia that Obama has shifted the focus of U.S. international attention from the Group of Eight (G8) most advanced economies to the larger and more inclusive G20.

"We see the G20 as fundamental not just to our international economic agenda, but to our ability to have a lasting recovery at home because fostering balanced, global growth is essential to fostering growth here in the American economy," Rhodes told reporters ( ). And the president believes that a stronger export agenda for the United States is fundamental to creating jobs growth at home, he added.

The G20 became more prominent with the onset of the 2007-2009 global recession, which economists have determined was the deepest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The G20 group leaders have met four times to coordinate global policy responses to the recession and to discuss the need for strengthened financial reforms.

These countries play a significant role in international economic stability because they represent about 90 percent of the gross domestic product globally, nearly 80 percent of world trade, and two-thirds of the world's population. The group, formed in 1999, includes the G8 members - Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union (EU).

Coming out of the previous four meetings, the G20 has encouraged programs that foster sustainable public finances. The group also has emphasized the need to reduce national budget deficits by half by 2013 and stabilize or reduce government debt by 2016 in relation to a nation's gross domestic product level, which is the broadest measure of the total value of a nation's goods and services.

G20 leaders also have created a framework designed to shrink surpluses in export-rich countries such as China and boost savings in debt-laden nations, including the United States, to develop a balanced global economy. Obama pledged to foster growth in the U.S. domestic export sector over the next five years to promote a broader economy and reduce dependence on consumer spending, which makes up about 80 percent of the U.S. economy.

Mike Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, told reporters that in addition to maintaining a sustainable global growth pattern and strengthened financial reforms, the leaders are expected to address energy security, global warming, free trade and anti-corruption measures. South Korea, as host to the meeting, has included sustainable economic development on the agenda.

"This agenda is critical to our economy back here at home, to our recovery and our ability to increase exports and create well-paying jobs here at home," Froman said. "And that's key to our objective of doubling our exports and creating jobs here at home."

The APEC forum is the primary vehicle for economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, Froman said. Expanding economic integration and trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region is a vital element in the United States' ability to export more and to strengthen its domestic economy, he added.

(by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)