Currency debate dominates G20 financial minister meeting
The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors' meeting started Friday to review and finalize issues to be tabled at the upcoming G20 Seoul Summit, among which is included the boiling foreign exchange issue.
Hosted by G20 chair South Korea in the city of Gyeongju, the two-day ministerial gathering is scheduled to check up all the agenda items to be discussed at the upcoming G20 Seoul Summit.
The meeting brought together top-level finance officials from the 20 member countries together with those invited from non- member countries and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Ahead of the meeting, some of the participant leaders, such as South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun and U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, held bilateral talks, during which the officials shared views on various agenda items prepared for the meeting.
The ministerial meeting started at local time 3:00 p.m. (0600 GMT) with an opening speech by South Korean President Lee Myung- bak.
In his remarks, President Lee strongly urged the leaders to reach an agreement on major agenda items, highlighting the need to swiftly implement the Framework announced at the Pittsburgh Summit.
South Korean Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun emphasized that the meeting should end with substantial outcomes.
Meanwhile, the first session, originally scheduled for the topic of global economy, was rearranged to also contain the tasks for Session III, planned for the Framework for the Strong, Balanced, and Sustainable Growth, Yoon said.
Accordingly, participants spent the time to diagnose and share views on the current economic recovery pace, while discussing how to better implement the Framework at the same time.
Combining the first and third session, South Korea interpreted, is as a move to fully focus on the currency debate.
Held amid a sharper-than-ever conflict on foreign exchange policies, the event has been grabbing global attention on how the members will discuss, coordinate, and settle the currency issue.
The currency conflict began as the U.S. announced to expand its stimulus package by conducting quantitative easing, which would further devalue its currency.
The policy was chosen in a bid to stand up against China as it refused to take in the U.S. claim that the renminbi be appreciated.
Experts have been worrying it may lead into a trade war as countries may keep choosing to take trade protectionist measures.
In the face of the deepening trouble, South Korea, as chair country, has been repeatedly stressing it will do his best to see a breakthrough in the currency tension.
Despite South Korea's firm intention, however, the meeting seems to be already faced with numerous difficulties.
On the other hand, following the session, the leaders will gather for a dinner meeting where they may share views on the issue in a more casual mode.
Wrapping up the first day's schedule, the participants will meet again Saturday for more in-depth talks, scheduled to have sessions of the IMF reform and Global Financial Safety Nets (GFSN), the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth, Financial Regulatory Reform and other issues.
The IMF quota reform is another hot issue at the meeting, on which advanced and emerging economies' views still seem to be in stark contrast.
Media is also paying attention to whether leaders could make progress in terms of the Framework, where countries are having trouble to balance and coordinate country-level needs and economic conditions in developing detailed plans.
The event will end with a press conference by the chair, where South Korean finance minister will announce a joint communiqu, based on which will be the agenda of the Seoul Summit.
[Source: Xinhua, Gyeongju, South Korea, 22Oct10]
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