G20 says nearing growth goal, but more needed from Europe

Sun Sep 21, 2014 3:19am EDT
 
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By Ian Chua and Cecile Lefort

CAIRNS Australia (Reuters) - The Group of 20 leading nations say they are tantalisingly close to adding an extra $2 trillion to the global economy and creating millions of new jobs, but Europe's extended stagnation remains a major stumbling block.

The finance ministers and central bank chiefs gathered in the Australian city of Cairns claimed progress on fireproofing the world's financial system and on closing tax loopholes exploited by giant multinationals.

They also dealt with the thorny problem of whether to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the G20 leaders' summit in November given events in Ukraine, with the consensus being to maintain diplomatic pressure but leave the door open for his attendance.

"We are determined to lift growth, and countries are willing to use all our macroeconomic levers – monetary, fiscal and structural policies – to meet this challenge," said Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, who hosted the event.

Almost 1,000 measures had been proposed that would boost global growth by 1.8 percent by 2018, nearing the ambitious goal of 2 percentage points adopted back in February.

A common concern was the risk of Europe's economic malaise pulling others down. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cited "philosophical" differences with some of his counterparts in Europe, especially on the need for near-term stimulus.

"The concern that I have is that if the efforts to boost demand are deferred for too long, there's a risk that the headwinds get stronger and what Europe needs is some more tailwinds in the economy," said Lew.

That was not an argument that found favour with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who emphasised the need for structural reforms and strict budget controls.   Continued...

 
Delegates of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, including World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (front 2nd L), China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan (front 3rd L), Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso (front C) and Japanese central bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda (front R), talk as they arrive for an official photograph in the northern Australian city of Cairns September 20, 2014.  REUTERS/Lincoln Feast