Global Reflections on the G-20 Summit

President Barack Obama briefing reporters at the end of the G-20 summit on Apr. 2 in London. (Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images)

China — China Daily, (Apr. 4): [Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi] also highlighted China's proposed measures to reform the international financial system. In addition to enhancing regulatory cooperation, he urged international financial institutions to increase aid to developing countries. In his speech, [President Hu Jintao] stressed that the I.M.F. should strengthen supervision of currency policies. The I.M.F. and the World Bank should improve their governance by increasing representation to the developing countries, he said. China promised that it would actively contribute to increasing I.M.F. resources but stressed that the multilateral lending institution should make the expanded resources available first for developing countries. Yang said that Hu also expressed China's concern over rising trade protectionism during a time of crisis, and called upon all countries to resist trade barriers.

Trinidad — Trinidad & Tobago Express, (Apr. 6): The Government is having a great deal of difficulty in persuading a skeptical population that [the G-20] summit will bring any tangible benefits to Trinidad and Tobago. … There is an uneasy feeling that in building international conference centers, international financial centers and making a case for a personal jet, Prime Minister Patrick Manning has lost sight of the basic needs and necessities of T&T. … Of course the final G-20 communiqué may not be that important. After the November 2008 summit in Washington a statement was released indicating that the leaders had agreed to fight protectionism. Since then 17 of the 20 countries have introduced new protectionist measures.

Malaysia — Malaysia Star, (Apr. 6): The G-20 Summit last Thursday was projected as a success because it agreed to provide $1 trillion to help developing countries. The reality is far more sobering. … The trillion figure was what caught the headlines. But as serious analysis shows, this figure purporting to be new money was more hype than reality. Some of it had already been decided long before the Summit, and some of it reflected only an intention rather than concrete pledges. … Nevertheless, the majority of developing countries are absent from the G-20 table, and thus the G-20 does not have international legitimacy. The United Nations is the better venue for discussion and decision-making on the global economy and the way out of the crisis, with a greater chance that the interests of developing countries will be taken care of.

Sudan — Sudan Tribune, (Apr. 4): Chairman of New partnership for Africa's Development (N.E.P.A.D.) and Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi who attended the G-20 summit representing the African continent on Friday said that the outcomes of the London summit were satisfactory. … According to the premier, the final outcomes of the G-20 summit, which he said he is pleased by, are the results of the pre-summit consultations made with senior African officials, organizers of the summit including U.K. prime minister Gordon Grown, and also are the results of the G-20 summit itself which broadly heard to African concerns as a top agenda. The G-20 wound up its summit on Thursday by promising $50 billion in aid to Africa, which is expected to be funneled as of the coming November. Meles was the only African leader apart from South Africa's president Kgalema Motlanthe to attend the G-20 summit.

Ireland — Irish Times, (Apr. 6): In the words of the final communiqué: "The era of banking secrecy is over." The capacity to create mega virtual profits and their decidedly non-virtual bonuses, and the ability of large corporations to largely avoid paying tax, will both be buried with that defunct secrecy. Multilateral funding is being tripled, and the world's major economies are now reading, if not yet singing, from a common sheet. German chancellor Angela Merkel, a woman not renowned for exaggerated language, probably understated it when she called the outcome an "almost historic compromise." When the Kenyan-American Barack Obama, who partly grew up in Indonesia, brokers a deal between Nicolas Sarkozy (the son of a Hungarian migrant) and Hu Jintao on tax havens and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, our world system can be said to, at last, be coming of age. The protocol specialists can sleep easier.

United Kingdom — Daily Telegraph, (Apr. 5): French President Nicolas Sarkozy was intent that the communiqué should say the G-20 would "endorse" a blacklist of tax havens produced by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Chinese President Hu Jintao was adamant that it should not. … While not aggressive, the men were refusing to give any ground. … Perhaps predictably, the rescue operation was carried out by none other than the President of the United States. This was Barack Obama's first international summit, but you would hardly have guessed. … He suggested changing the word "endorse" to "note." There was a brief moment of hesitation, but then both sides agreed. Minutes later they signed the communiqué. The press conference was only delayed for around half an hour. The rest is history, or at least what Brown referred to as a "historic moment."