Asia-Pacific developing countries seek greater say in shaping global economic governance with recommendations to upcoming G20 Summit

Asserting that all countries are affected by global risks, 28 Asia-Pacific countries at a United Nations high-level forum here have sought greater transparency and inclusiveness in G20 deliberations in shaping a development-friendly global economic governance system.

Government ministers, central bank governors and senior policymakers from across the region met at the 11-12 October High-level Consultation on the G20 Cannes Summit: Perspectives from Asia-Pacific convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to help formulate a coordinated regional voice on issues before the G20 Summit to be held in Cannes, France on 3 and 4 November 2011.

With only eight Asia-Pacific countries as members of the G20 that brings together developed and developing nations on key global economic issues, the Consultation stressed the importance of making the region’s voice, especially that of its poorest nations, heard at the G20.

“The Asia-Pacific region is leading the global recovery and is the most dynamic region in today’s world economy. It is time that we also begin leading the global discussions and setting their agenda – through a coordinated regional voice – and play an active role in shaping global economic governance and the ‘rules of tomorrow’,” ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Noeleen Heyzer said in her opening address to the Consultation.

“The perspective of poor and the excluded countries needs to be factored in the global discussions given their outcomes affect all the countries irrespective of their size or income levels,” said the top United Nations official in the region.

Addressing the Consultation, H.E. Ahmed Mujthaba, Minister of State for Economic Development, Maldives underlined the importance of formulating a common regional voice on global issues and the importance of engaging civil society: “Our voice needs to be heard beyond closed doors.”

The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, H.E. Ajith Nivard Cabraal noted that the advanced economies should both implement expansionary policies and confidence restoration measures in the short-term and formulate credible fiscal consolidation plans for the medium term.

In his remarks to the Consultation, H.E. Rui Manuel Hanjam, Vice Minister of Finance, Timor-Leste stressed that the least developed countries need to be heard in decisions on global economic governance as they are also affected by global economic movements.

The Deputy-Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Kazakhstan, H.E. Timur Muratovich Suleimenov said ESCAP provided a platform to bring together diverse nations: “Working together we can, and will make our voice heard.”

The Consultation ended with the adoption of a set of recommendations related to regional economic and social priorities, including commodity price volatility, food security and reform of the international monetary and financial system, to be communicated by the United Nations to France, the G20 Chair.

Asia-Pacific countries have called on the G20 Cannes Summit to give a clear and strong message that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), narrowing development gaps and policies to foster balanced development must occupy a central place in sustaining growth in the years ahead. The Consultation noted that Asia-Pacific countries with large foreign exchange reserves can contribute to global growth by increasing domestic spending to address critical developmental needs, such as investing in infrastructure and promoting universal access to social protection.
Expressing concern over the adverse impact on the region of the continuing global economic uncertainty, the ESCAP Consultation urged advanced economies to support short-term growth while undertaking medium-term fiscal consolidation.

With high and volatile commodity prices putting pressure on inflation and threatening the food security of millions of poor in the region, the Consultation urged the G20 to help bring back agriculture to the forefront of public policy. It cited social safety net initiatives in the form of subregional food banks set up by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Noting that the commodity price volatility has been amplified by market speculation, the Consultation asked G20 countries to support developing countries in boosting agricultural productivity through knowledge and technology transfers as well as by implementing appropriate regulations and supervision of commodity futures and derivatives markets, including those for agricultural products to minimize price fluctuations.

Emphasizing the concerns that the global financial crisis was triggered by the build-up of risks in the financial sector that escaped the scrutiny of supervisors, the Asia-Pacific countries called for a comprehensive reform of the international monetary system. In this context, the Consultation urged the G20 to put forward credible proposals for regulation of the shadow banking system and for curbing the excessive risk taking tendencies that are responsible for heightened volatility in the financial markets.

The Consultation sought G20 support to improve global liquidity management through stronger global financial safety nets and a diversified reserve system with strong surveillance over reserve issuer countries.

It has also sought governance reforms in international financial institutions including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank aimed at giving developing countries a greater voice, in parallel with their role in the global economy.