G20 meet in April more crucial than G7, say analysts

A meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors gets under way in Rome. (AFP)

Analysts and economists believe that the Group of 20 meeting to be held in April is more crucial than the Group of 7 meeting as the developed countries group cannot solve the global economic crisis on its own.

They said the initiatives proposed after two days of talks would be tested in April when the Group of 20 emerging and rich nations are to meet in London, with China wielding particular clout.

Beijing came in for special praise in Rome meeting of G7 for its "continued commitment to move to a more flexible exchange rate" that would likely lead to the appreciation of the yuan.

The charge that Beijing was letting its currency slip to protect the price of its exports has been a constant source of friction with Washington.

The G20 meeting will be crucial in reinforcing the ambitions of the G7, said analyst Marco Annunziata, chief economist at Italian bank UniCredit.

"The G20 will be far more important because the G7 countries cannot resolve the crisis on their own. They need the help of the emerging economies," Annunziata said.

Annunziata said: "The fact that China is still buying US Treasury bonds is essential."

Group of Seven finance ministers have urged bold reforms to the world financial system, while leaving little doubt that the global economic turmoil is far from over. Italy's Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti called for a "new world economic order" as he wrapped up the crisis meeting over which he presided in Rome.

In a joint declaration, the G7 called for "urgent reforms" of the international financial system and reiterated a bleak outlook for the world economy, after fresh data showed the eurozone recession deepening.

The financial leaders from the G7 grouping of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus Russia met as countries were struggling with the worst economic crisis in decades.

Grim data showed that the eurozone economy slumped by 1.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The European Union overall and several individual EU countries – including G7 host Italy – are also in recession.

The G7 delegates in a joint statement vowed to avoid protectionism as they seek to stabilise the tottering world economy and financial markets and said stabilisation of "highest priority".

The global crisis "has highlighted fundamental weaknesses in the international financial system and that urgent reforms are needed", the statement said.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made his debut on the world stage, after taking office last month and launching a vast US financial stabilisation plan that received a sceptical reaction in the United States.

He vowed that his country, the biggest economy in the world and the source of much of the financial drama in recent months, would work with other nations for a consensus on reforms.

"We need to begin the process of comprehensive reform of our financial system and the international financial system, so the world never again faces a crisis this severe," Geithner said after the talks.

"The key elements are to make sure that we're making banks strong enough that they can be supportive of recovery," he said.

"It will require ways to bring in private capital, provide public capital when that's necessary and it's going to require direct action to try to get credit markets working again."

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – the body coming to the rescue of some crisis-hit countries – said restructuring banks damaged by the credit crunch was the main problem facing governments.

The G7 reiterated the view of several top delegates that protectionism – when countries take measures that favour their own economies at the expense of others – was a threat to stability.

 

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