Monday, April 06, 2009

G20: Actions Better than Words

The G20 has always been just a star-studded cast strutting their stuff, telling the world that everything is within control. With each show, they take money from the IMF again and again. Big words, so what G20?


The just-concluded Group of 20 (G20) summit in London has won oceans of applauds from the world as it is believed to have harvested positive and practical results by formulating effective measures to heal the ailing world economy.

Participants are believed to have made due contributions to the success of the summit, by jointly working out a package of agreements and commitments, including a 1.1-trillion-U.S.-dollar global rescue deal, and taking a landmark move of tighter financial regulation.

Although the commitments are indeed encouraging, it is more important to fulfill them through solid actions.

Just as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the summit, "these commitments made by G20 leaders must be translated into concrete action."

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday called on the international community to make concerted efforts to ride out the crisis when he addressed the summit. "The only right choice is for all of us to work together and deal with it," he said.

China, the largest developing country, has spared no efforts to implement its proposed measures and played a conducive role in the world in building up confidence, maintaining stability as well as pushing for an economic revival at an early date.

At the summit, China also announced it would contribute 40 billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund, highlighting its role as a responsible member of the United Nations.

The United States, the world's leading economy, also pledged to turn words into actions.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday that while the United States is a world power, it is prepared to listen and learn as well as lead.

He said he will ask Congress in the next few days to provide an immediate 448 million U.S. dollars to help the poorest countries.

Nonetheless, the "Buy American" measures in the newly adopted stimulus package by the Obama administration, which bar the use offoreign iron, steel and manufactured goods in public works projects, have aroused concerns among other countries about the U.S. protectionist moves.

Similarly, French President Nicolas Sarkozy once said publicly that it was unjustifiable that French car brands made abroad, for instance in the Czech Republic, should be sold in France. His remarks had rung alarm bells in Europe for a tendency of protectionism.

At the summit, the G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to resist protectionism and push for an ambitious conclusion of the Doha Round global trade talks.

Looking back, they committed themselves to free trade at the Washington summit last year, but not all of them have kept their words.

This time, they said in a joint statement that "by acting together to fulfill these pledges we will bring the world economy out of recession and prevent a crisis like this from recurring in the future."

If the world's major economies, in particular the G20 member states, put their promises into practice, confidence will be restored that the political leadership is capable of meeting difficulties and challenges, and pulling the world economy out of mire.

It is not picky to demand to see tangible actions and deeds, even though the world media and the public save no words to hail the G20 summit. Instead, we should remain sober and critical.

The G-20 leaders announced Thursday they agreed to meet again by year's end to check on the progress and effectiveness of the measures. We need to wait and see.

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