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September 14, 2009

The Canadian Charger at the G20

The Canadian Charger

G20When the G20 Summit is in progress in Pittsburgh next week The Canadian Charger will be there covering it. 

President Obama will chair this meeting of world leaders from countries around the world, representing 85% of the world economy. 

The leaders will review progress made since the Washington and London summits and discuss ways to ensure sound and sustainable recovery from the world economic and financial crisis.

The G20 is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion among key industrial and emerging market countries of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

In 2009, there are 20 members of the G-20. These include the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States. The European Union is the 20th member, represented by the rotating council presidency and the European Central Bank.

In addition to these 20 members, the following forums and institutions, as represented by their respective chief executive officers, participate in meetings of the G-20:

International Monetary Fund

World Bank

International Monetary and Financial Committee

Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank

The G20 was created at the September 25, 1999 meeting of G7 Finance Ministers "as a new mechanism for informal dialogue in the framework of the Bretton Woods institutional system, to broaden the dialogue on key economic and financial policy issues among systematically significant economies and to promote cooperation to achieve stable and sustainable world growth that benefits all." (G7 1999)

The G7 started out as an exclusive club of industrialized nations. With the addition of Russia, it became the G8. As emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil started to become a more significant part of the world economy, the G8 decided it must expand to include not only these economies, but other regions of the world.

The last 12 months of crisis has been a stark reminder to G8 leaders that global problems, economic and political security can't be solved unilaterally by G8 countries, although they still plan to play a leading role.

When the issues were very serious and action was required, the G20 leaders were called upon. When deals on global trade are made, China, India and Brazil will negotiate with the EU and the U.S.

Fighting global poverty must involve China and the UN is there to provide a voice for the billion plus people in the world who live in abject poverty. The Pittsburgh G20 Summit will be the third. G20 countries met for the first time in November 2008 and again April 2009. 

Canada supported the creation of the G20, in part, because it wanted to see a broader consultative structure, linked to other institutions, and less controlled by the U.S. and it's preferences.

Although the G20 was created as a deliberative rather than a decisional body, it's designed to encourage consensus on international issues, with a policy focus.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Chairperson of the G20 for its first two years, said it “will focus on translating the benefits of globalization into higher incomes and better opportunities everywhere,” including working people around the world. It's meetings are linked to those of the G8.

The London G20 Summit,  in April 2009, built on the work of the first G20 Summit, in Washington, in November  2008,  as leaders reached agreement on six pledges: to restore confidence, growth, and jobs; to repair the financial system to restore lending; to strengthen financial regulation to rebuild trust; to fund and reform our international financial institutions to overcome this crisis and prevent future ones; to promote global trade and investment and reject protectionism; and to build an inclusive, green, and sustainable recovery.

At the G8 meeting in Italy, July 8-10, 2009,industrial world leaders set the agenda for the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. They determined that although there are signs of stabilization in the global economy, including recovery in stock markets, significant risks remain to economic and financial stability. 

Thus they committed to continue to provide macro-economic stimulus consistent with price stability and medium-term fiscal sustainability.  At the same time G8 leaders agreed on the need to prepare strategies for unwinding their extraordinarily huge fiscal and monetary stimulus programs.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ensured that finding future sources of growth without relying on the heavily indebted U.S. Consumer will be high on the G20 agenda.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has announced new limits on bonus payments to traders in financial institutions and said he will press G20 partners to adopt this policy. He said the G20 would consider setting upper limits on bonus payments or setting a global tax.

In an effort to eliminate tax havens where large amounts of capital are hidden from taxation, G20 leaders will discuss punitive measures for use against countries that don't meet international standards for tax transparency.

To counteract the threat of protectionism, G20 leaders will commit to keeping markets open and free while committing to a balanced conclusion to the Doha round of trade talks in 2010.

Following up on G8 leaders’ agreement to reduce global emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 (compared to 1990 or more recent years), including a pledge to pressure emerging economies to undertake quantitative actions to collectively reduce emissions significantly below current levels by a specified year, G20 Summit leaders intend to call for a reduction in subsidies that artificially encourage carbon intensive energy consumption.

Meanwhile, The Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project (PG20RP), an NGO organization, is organizing a series of events during the G20 Summit, to deepen ongoing social resistance locally, to demonstrate and build new and existing alternatives to the worldview represented by the G20 and the direct policies it promotes, and to disrupt the summit and undermine its attempts to gain legitimacy.

On Tuesday, September 22, the PG20RP and allies will host an Anti-G20 Community Gathering in the East End of Pittsburgh and are encouraging other groups to hold similar gatherings in neighborhoods throughout the city.

On Wednesday, September 23, other Pittsburgh organizations are planning to hold a major march, followed by an evening concert.

On Thursday, September 24, the PG20RP will meet at 2:30pm in a location TBA in the East End to “March on the G20” summit at David Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

PG20RP events for Friday, September 25 begin at high noon with dozens of simultaneous actions that connect the struggle against the G20 to a broader arena of local and international social resistance.

More soon.

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Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University and the author of several books focussing on the Middle East including 'The Hundred Years' War On Palestine'. He explains some of the basic facts of the struggle for Palestinian independence and the creation of the Zionist project of Israel.

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