Eurozone Crisis Likely to Be Primary Topic at G20 Summit
By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Washington - The current Eurozone financial crisis is likely to be the primary topic at the annual summit of the Group of 20 (G20) advanced economies, but the leaders are also expected to focus on measures set in place for strong, balanced and sustainable global economic growth, senior White House advisers say.
President Obama will attend the annual G20 meeting November 3-4 in the French resort of Cannes. It will be his fifth G20 summit, and will include a number of individual meetings with world leaders.
"The G20 agenda is critical to growing our economy here back at home, to strengthening the recovery, to increase exports and to create jobs," Deputy National Security Advisor Mike Froman said in a press briefing at the White House October 31 in advance of the president's travel to Europe. Froman advises the president on international economic affairs.
Froman said the world leaders will talk about the next stages of financial reform and momentum on G20 priorities - which include everything from development for security and infrastructure to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, fighting corruption, and strengthening the multilateral trading system.
"These summits, like many summits, really have three purposes: one, they're action-forcing events to make decisions; they are ongoing processes for getting work done below the leader level; and they're an opportunity for leaders to engage directly with their counterparts on the issues of the day," Froman said.
While in Cannes, Obama has scheduled a meeting with the L20, which is the group of international labor leaders who are in Cannes as part of the G20 program, said Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
Rhodes said Obama will begin individual meetings on November 3 with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is hosting the summit, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"These are obviously the two largest economies in the Eurozone, and two leaders that the president has been in very close contact with over the last weeks and months about the issues that will be discussed at the G20 and about the situation in the Eurozone," Rhodes added.
After the G20 meetings end November 4, Obama is expected to meet with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina. The president is also expected to hold an additional meeting with Sarkozy before returning to Washington, Rhodes said.
European leaders have created a recovery plan to reduce Greece's debt by half, head off fears of a default and curb the Eurozone financial crisis. The plan announced by European leaders last week will lay a critical foundation for a durable solution to the crisis, Treasury Under Secretary Lael Brainard said at the White House press briefing.
"Obviously, the challenges facing Europe have significant implications for the U.S. economy and for the global economy," Brainard said. The plan contains a firewall to protect nations so they have access to financing as they reform their economies, she said.
The International Monetary Fund has been working closely with European Union officials and national leaders to work out the debt crisis plan. A crucial component of the plan is to prevent the current Eurozone crisis from spreading to other European nations.
"The EU is a critical anchor of global stability, and our single largest trading partner," Brainard told reporters. "Fortunately, Europe has the resources and the capacity to overcome these risks. We'll continue to support our European allies in their efforts to address this crisis, alongside the IMF and our G20 partners."
Brainard said the G20 will discuss financial reforms that have been sought for the past two years as the G20 nations have grappled with efforts to spur economic growth and put in place international measures to lessen the severity of future economic recessions.
"Stronger and more balanced growth, financial stability, these will be the key touchstones for the G20," Brainard said.
The G20 was formed in 1999 and includes 19 of the world's largest national economies and the European Union. The G20 countries represent about 90 percent of the gross domestic product globally and nearly 80 percent of world trade. They also represent two-thirds of the world's population.
The G20 comprises the G7, formed in 1975, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union. Representatives also attend from international financial organizations such as the IMF and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)