Asia-Pacific Countries gather at ESCAP to Give Perspective on the Upcoming G20

Representatives of 26 Asia-Pacific countries began a two-day consultation today in Bangkok to coordinate the region’s voice and discuss the non-G20 perspectives on the agenda of the G20 Summit to be held on 11-12 November in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

The High-level Consultation on the G20 Seoul Summit: Perspectives from Asia-Pacific has been organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in response to the request to facilitate discussion of non-G20 perspectives, made by this year’s G20 chair, the Republic of Korea, during ESCAP’s 66th Commission session in May 2010.

At the consultation, ESCAP member countries are discussing key issues related to growth and recovery, narrowing development gaps, financial stability and reforms in global governance.

Addressing the opening session of the consultation, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Noeleen Heyzer said “the Seoul Summit will be remembered for bringing development on the G20 agenda for the first time”.

Dr Heyzer noted that “the challenge thrown up by the financial crisis in terms of diminishing aggregate demand can be turned into an opportunity for promoting inclusive development in the region which has 950 million poor and faces wide development gaps.”

“A clear and strong message needs to go from the G20 Summit that achievement of MDGs, narrowing development gaps…have to now form a central place in sustaining growth in a post-crisis world and the entire world economy has a stake in this,” she pointed out.

Mr Kyung-Soo Kim, Director-General for International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea said the Seoul Summit will be the first global governance summit hosted by a non-G8 member country, highlighting the changed global economic dynamics.

Explaining the outcome of last week’s meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Gyeongju, Korea, Mr Kim said the G20 summit will adopt a multi-year action plan touching on key development pillars such as infrastructure, human resource development, trade and knowledge sharing.

The Republic of Korea will support the establishment of a global network to assist, in particular, small and open economies protecting themselves from the effects of volatile global capital flows, he added.

H.E. Mr. Hae-Moon Chung, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Thailand and Permanent Representative to ESCAP said the G20 summit should better reflect the concerns of non-G20 countries to be a more legitimate and credible global steering institution.

Throughout the first day session country delegates made statements providing their countries perspective.

There was broad agreement on the importance of boosting investment in agriculture and rural development. While agriculture is the major source of income for the rural poor, investment in agriculture has long been neglected.

Several member countries supported ESCAP’s assessment - provided by Dr Nagesh Kumar, ESCAP’s Chief Economist - which shows that Asia has considerable headroom to generate domestic demand by promoting inclusive development policies. Lifting the region’s nearly 1 billion poor out of poverty and narrowing the wide development and infrastructure gaps could open up new business opportunities and create additional domestic demand.

Concern was expressed over possible premature fiscal consolidation in advanced economies prolonging the recession as well as the massive capital inflows to emerging market economies in the region driven by loose monetary policies in developed countries.

Countries emphasized the need for a thorough review of the impact of financial regulatory reforms on low-income countries. Many countries in the region have financial markets in early stages of development and rely heavily on banks for business and financing.

The consultation also highlighted the need for a thorough review of the IMF’s mandate as part of its governance reform. There was also call for G20’s closer engagement with the United Nations, especially in enabling all countries to voice their concerns and priorities.