16 Mar 2009

G20 finance ministers pledge to revive economy

2:16 pm on 16 March 2009

Finance ministers from the G20 nations meeting to address the global financial crisis say they will do whatever it takes to revive the world economy.

The finance ministers - from the leading old and new economies - issued their statement at the end of a meeting in southern England to prepare for a G20 leaders' summit in early April.

The statement includes a commitment to doubling the resources of the International Monetary Fund for helping emerging market economies, and to triple the Asian Development Bank's funds for fighting the crisis.

The ministers also said they had agreed to a number of broad principles, but did not specify details.

The G20 has pledged to protect major financial institutions, fix the global financial system and revive lending. This will include maintaining liquidity support, ensuring banks have enough capital and dealing with impaired assets.

They also said central banks will maintain expansionary policies as long as necessary and that fiscal commitments already pledged by governments should be implemented without delay.

Differences remain

Before the meeting, the ministers were reported to be divided on whether stimulus packages or tighter regulation of the finance sector should be the way forward.

France and Germany want to focus on tighter regulation, while Britain, the United States and Australia favour more spending to stimulate the economy.

The German Finance Minister Peter Steinbrueck says confidence has to be restored first if economic stimulus measures are to succeed.

The United States Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, says huge stimulus plans are necessary.

In a boost for the US, Japan and China - the world's second and third largest economic powerhouses - also embraced stimulus on Friday. Japanese premier Taro Aso has ordered a new stimulus package worth a reported $US200 billion.

Following the meeting, both the UK chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling and Mr Geithner played down talk of any disagreement at the talks.

Mr Darling said there had been a "significant amount of progress, a great deal of consensus".

Mr Geithner added that "we have a very broad consensus globally on the need to act aggressively to restore growth to the global economy".

Yet Mr Steinbrueck again indicated that Germany was concerned about the expense of further stimulus packages.

"Public debt is a heavy burden for our children and grandchildren, and there will have to be an exit strategy," he said.

2009 dangerous for world economy - Zoellick

Ahead of the meeting, the World Bank president Robert Zoellick said 2009 was shaping up to be a "very dangerous year" for the global economy.

He believes the economic outlook is worse than the International Monetary Fund's prediction of growth of 0.5% this year.

The G20 includes the Group of Seven industrialised countries - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - the European Union and leading developing nations including Australia, Brazil, China and India.

The gathering in Horsham, near London, laid the groundwork for a G20 heads of state summit on 2 April.