As President Barack Obama arrived for the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea he knew that it would be a difficult gathering. Washington is facing widespread criticism of its policy of printing more money to try to stimulate the US economy.
Obama immediately sent a letter to the other G20 leaders urging them to put aside their differences and do their part to increase growth. He also made the point that a strong US economy was vital to the global recovery.
But there are deep divisions over economic policy and negotiators have been struggling to hammer out a closing statement that all the leaders of the major rich and developing nations can sign.
The motto of the summit ‘Shared Growth Beyond Crisis’ is plastered over the venue and around Seoul, but first they have to agree on how to address trade imbalances and exchange rates.
So is there a way out of this worsening economic standoff? Kim Jung-Sik of the Yonsei University School of Economics in Seoul had a suggestion: “I think it might be possible to put together some kind of package deal, which would involve adjusting the currencies – all together, in a group – of some countries such as China, Japan and South Korea that have trade surpluses with the United States.”
As well as heads of state and government, the summit organisers invited business leaders from around the world.
One day before the summit started, more than 100 of them gathered to discuss how to tackle the challenges facing the global economy.
As the summit got underway, euronews’ reporter in Seoul, Seamus Kearney, summed up: “There seems to be general acceptance that the so-called currency wars have been pushed right to the top of the agenda. But economic observers I’ve spoken to say the public will still expect significant progress on other key topics, including safety nets in times of financial crisis, as well as reform of world financial institutions.”