April 13, 2014 / 3:02 AM / 4 years ago

Australia says progress towards G20 growth target "unacceptable"

PERTH, Australia, April 13 - Slow progress towards meeting economic growth targets set by the Group of 20 bloc of advanced and developing nations this year is “unacceptable”, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Sunday.

Financial leaders (front row, seated L-R) Mexico's Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Brazil's Finance Minister Guido Mantega, South Korea's Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan, Australia’s Treasurer and this year's chairman of the G20 Joe Hockey, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Singapore's Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso, Gabon's Economy Minister Christophe Akagha-Mba and Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf join other International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) finance ministers, bank governors and other ministers from around the world for a family photo during the IMF and World Bank's 2014 Annual Spring Meetings in Washington, April 12, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

G20 finance ministers had pledged to have “real and effective plans to lift the global economy by a further 2 percent” before they meet in Australia in September but were only one-tenth of the way there, he said.

“The proposals put forward by nations so far have been unacceptable and they only meet 10 percent of our goal,” Hockey told Australian Broadcasting Corp. TV after talks in Washington.

Hockey coordinated the talks, with Australia holding the G20 presidency.

The agreement by the G20 nations at a meeting in Sydney in February to lift their collective GDP by more than 2 percent above what current economic policies would achieve over the next five years was reiterated in a statement on Friday.

The statement acknowledged the political difficulties in making changes to reach that goal.

“There was a very frank discussion about the fact that they need to be real and new commitments,” Hockey said.

“It’s not good enough for some countries just to reheat previous announcements. You need to actually really do the heavy lifting,” he said.

G20 members represent around 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, more than over 75 percent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.

Finance ministers from the bloc will meet in the tropical Australian city of Cairns in September before a summit of G20 leaders in Brisbane in November.

During the talks in Washington, Hockey was also deeply critical of delays in implementing changes agreed by the G20 bloc in 2010 for reform of the International Monetary Fund.

The reforms would give more power to emerging markets such as Brazil and China and increase the IMF’s resources.

Hockey blamed an impasse in the U.S. Congress for the delay, saying it “diminishes America’s global standing instead of enhancing it”.

Reporting by Morag MacKinnon; Editing by Paul Tait

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