Even as thousands protest the G20 (Group of 20) summit in London “for robbing the poor to benefit the rich”, on Thursday, the global community expects the 20 nations to come up with a plan to arrest and reverse the global downturn.
"G20 is not going to agree on every point,” said US President Barack Obama in a press conference with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday. The G20 countries have an "obligation to lead", he said, and in the days ahead, they "will move forward with a sense of purpose".
<b1>Obama’s ideas at G20, like his pre-election speeches, did not deal with specifics: "We can’t go back to bubbles that inevitably lead to bust." Quoting his professor, he delivered another one-liner: "Some are to blame but all are responsible."
Maybe the heads of governments are not expected to be specific. But what the summit is expected to deliver is a strong political statement to the global community on how to revive global growth and jobs, create better financial regulation and resist protectionism. “We have to reject protectionism,” Obama said, bringing relief to export-oriented countries like China and Germany and, to some extent, India.
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets Obama on Thursday evening, after the summit ends, the discussions are going to be three-fold — bilateral relations, regional issues and the global financial crisis, foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters.
Briefing reporters on the PM’s hour-long meeting with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday, Menon said the two leaders focused mostly on the global financial crisis and both were “satisfied with the preparatory work done before the London summit of G20”. Singh made it clear that there needs to be “concerted action by developed nations to create demand and restart the flow of credit to the global economy. And while flagging his top concern — protectionism by developed countries — the solutions shouldn’t ignore keeping economies open.
The biggest uncertainty at the G20 meeting — the non-participation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy — is now over. “France and Germany will speak with a single voice,” Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference.
But their demand for the setting up of a new global regulatory architecture under which funds are “registered, supervised and controlled” stays. Still, Sarkozy kept his tone hard. “I will not sign up to any false compromise,” he said, talking to the French people as much as to G20 leaders.