G20 Commitments: Growth, Fiscal Transparency and Climate

G20 Commitments Growth, Fiscal Transparency and Climate

Meeting between David Cameron and Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Brisbane (Australia), Sunday, November 16.

The Heads of State and Government of the G20 agreed on Sunday, November 16 in Brisbane, on measures to stimulate growth and get more fiscal transparency, in line with the projects promoted in particular by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They also agreed on decisive action on climate change, in their final communiqué stating that they supported the UN green fund designed to help developing countries adapt to the effects of global warming.

“The G20 has changed gears. It defined a growth agenda (…). The economies of the world will get better. Our message is that there is hope, there exists an action plan and it was approved,” welcomed the first Australian Conservative minister Tony Abbott, who minimized the differences between the majority of countries members of the G20 and Australia on the issue of climate change.

Despite the tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Western countries – including Anglo-Saxon – about Ukraine, the summit ended in a more peaceful environment. Putin, who advanced his departure from Brisbane, Sunday, November 16, was nevertheless welcomed in a “constructive atmosphere” and mention that he was satisfied with the results for this weekend, working in the capital of Queensland in eastern Australia.

Even before the start of the Australian presidency, the finance minister of this country, the energetic and often provocative Joe Hockey had proposed to make growth a key theme of the G20 stating that he wanted “less talk and more action.” He was followed and the success of the Australian presidency owes him a lot, as well as the Australian sherpa Heather Smith Mr Abbott paid tribute to.

Investment liberalization for more growth

In terms of growth, the G20 countries (90% of the world economy) additional growth target of at least 2.1% of their combined GDP by 2018. Given a wealth of additional 2000 billion and millions of dollars of additional job creation. This estimate does not account for 300 billion plan Juncker for investment, so that will be added to the 2.1% extra.

To obtain such a result, national growth strategies will be implemented or specified. They are based mainly on an extra effort of investment in infrastructure, but also more liberal measures bill (deregulation of the market for goods and services, increased flexibility of labor markets…). A global investment platform (a “hub”) will be installed in Sydney and will be responsible for promoting and sharing of good practice and cooperation between public and private sector in this area four years.

In addition to the action plan, the G20 acknowledged the “slow” and “chaotic” character to recovery and an analysis of the health of the global economy close to that of the IMF or OECD, citing weak demand and the need to overcome problems of supply to meet the potential growth (long term).

A timid step towards greater fiscal transparency

A timid step towards greater fiscal transparency

The other strong commitment from the highest reaches was pledged on financial regulation and fiscal transparency. In accordance with the wishes of many countries including US, the G20 stressed the need to work, among other things, on the shadow banking (finance shade). In the area of taxation, he welcomed the “significant progress” made on the basis of the action plan of the OECD and its project to fight against the erosion of tax bases and the shift of profits, known under the acronym of BEPS. The participants of summit of Brisbane have committed to take the final steps of the BEPS (relating, among other things, to shell companies) in 2015 and to the transparency of the tax rulings (fiscal arrangements between certain governments and multinationals), considered harmful practices.

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, regularly attacked by the press about tax evasion in Luxembourg and “Luxleaks,” said before the G20 he was in favor of automatic exchange of information including rescripts. In his new mantle of Commission President, Juncker did not hesitate to contradict the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, the position that he used to embrace… The final communiqué also mentions the necessary progress in the scheme imposition of patents (also used by companies to avoid taxation of profits or to limit the scope).

Much has been done in this area if it is to be remembered that bank secrecy was almost the rule before 2009. However, several NGOs, including One expressed disappointment, saying that the G20 leaders had “failed to show boldness on the home straight” in not daring to impose a “public access to information, the only effective solution to ensure transparency and curb tax evasion and corruption [that] lost each year a trillion dollars for developing countries. “The loss in the final communiqué of any reference to the principle of transparency in the extractive industries” was also deplored.

The G20 has also urged the United States to adopt the governance reform of quota shares and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Hard struggle for a paragraph on climate

Hard struggle for a paragraph on climate

The toughest discussions focused on climate, Australia initially did not want to appear in the final text. Mr. Abbott, taken aback by the United States and China committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, had to solve it. The final statement posits a “resolute and effective” climate principle in the context of the Paris Conference in December 2015 and mentions, among other instruments, the UN green fund.

The United States announced that it would contribute up to EUR 2.4 billion to green fund of the UN. Japan promised 1.2 billion.

At G20, a few lines can sometimes change everything. The efforts of France and its partners, defending a global warming and calling for a “strong and effective action” and the need to find a protocol international agreement at the conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP21) to be held in Paris in 2015, were rewarded. The UN green fund designed to help developing countries adapt to the effects of global warming is also discussed.

“The G20 is a very important achievement for us to return to Paris and sign the comprehensive agreement that will prevent an increase of 3 or 4 degrees of global temperature, which would lead to disaster if not war , “said Francois Hollande, at the end of the debate. French President stressed the “ripple effect” that could have the G20 communiqué on the year ahead, crucial to the climate.

Of all the topics in this document – that lists the directions taken by the G20 for the coming year – the topic of the emissions of greenhouse gas has been the most debated. “This is the paragraph where there were more open hooks, as they say in diplomatic language,” explained Michel Sapin, the minister of the economy, now in Brisbane. More common language, this means that discussions were tough until the last moment on the exact wording of the text.

For every word counts when it comes to climate. The principle of a paragraph on the subject was not acquired a few days before the opening of the G20. Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, host of the summit, was particularly strongly opposed to that question being a part of the discussions. But the balance of power has shifted when the two biggest polluters in the world, China and the United States, reached an agreement on Wednesday, November 12, to establish targets to fight against global warming. One way to put pressure before the summit.

Barack Obama hit hard at the opening of the G20 in a speech-like plea for the planet before an auditorium filled with conquered Australian students. Deploring the gradual disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef, the US president has sent several clear messages to Mr. Abbott, urging him to reconsider his position on climate change. The announcement of the US contribution to the tune of EUR 2.4 billion for the Green Fund, which is in addition to Japanese and European commitments ($ 1.2 billion) for a UN target of 8 billion euros by the end of the year, also weighed in these heated debates.

Because once the principle of a paragraph on climate was officially recorded, it was still necessary that the content is up to par. France has obtained satisfaction on both goals it had set: a reference to a global protocol on climate during the Cop21 in Paris and the financing of the fight against global warming. On this second point, the statement “encourages the parties who are willing to make public their national contributions in front of the Cop 21 (during the first quarter of 2015).” Hopefully, that sum of good intentions leads to a historic agreement in Paris in 2015 expected since the failure of Copenhagen.

Putin leaves the G20 prematurely

Putin leaves the G20 prematurely

The avalanche of criticism he has been subjected for 24 hours may have been due to the placidity of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president has attended meetings of the G20 Sunday, November 16 in Brisbane, Australia, has advanced his departure shutting out the official lunch. His plane took off even before the publication of the final communiqué of the summit.

The program of the Russian president “was shortened,” said a source in the Russian delegation on condition of anonymity, adding that lunch “is a kind of entertainment.”

Putin has been strongly criticized since Friday by Western delegations who denounced his attitude in Ukraine and management of international relations.

US President Barack Obama had said particularly on Saturday, November 15, that he was determined to “oppose Russian aggression against Ukraine, which is a threat to the world.” David Cameron, the British prime minister went further, describing Russia as a “great state attacking smaller states in Europe.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has meanwhile announced that the European Union was considering imposing new financial sanctions on Russian officials.

At the opening of the G20, the Australian press had set the tone by booking a reception of muscular Putin. The Courier Mail, local tabloid, represented the Russian president as a bear, boxing with Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, made up as Kangaroo. All crossed with a clear title: “Ice cold war.”

This was an echo to Mr. Abbott, who denounced the “aggressiveness” of Putin after four Russian ships were spotted in international waters off the coast of Queensland.

Amid the chorus of criticism, Hollande almost passed for the least virulent against Vladimir Putin. The two men met on the sidelines of the G20 Saturday at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane. The two leaders talked for more than an hour of the Ukrainian crisis, against a backdrop of tension between Moscow and Paris, after France refused to deliver in time the two warships of Mistral type, controlled by Russia.

In the opening remarks, the two presidents made a polite but cold praise of relations that the two countries have maintained so far – “very good” for Putin, just “good” for Holland. But diplomacy, body language and handshake are as important as words. The returned on this point the message of the two leaders is clear: the Franco-Russian relations are not in the process of warming.

“We currently have a lot of turbulence in international affairs, which is why it is particularly useful to meet again and discuss these issues,” conceded the Russian president in his introduction to the press, not to mention directly the Ukrainian crisis.

One precaution that has not taken the French president: “We have a duty (…). This is to resolve crises that occur in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world where we have responsibilities. “And François Hollande warned his counterpart:” I am always ready to continue this relationship, but a condition is that it can bear results.”

The French camp was annoyed by the lack of effect of changes in the Ukrainian crisis, triggered by the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March. The military escalation is still not on the agenda and the political process in Kiev is still threatened by the Russians. In exchange, the French president has asked his counterpart on the cease-fire between Moscow-backed separatists in the east and Ukrainian forces. The cease-fire has never been respected in the field, where violence dangerously reigns.

Mr. Holland also asked the Russian president on the boundaries of the territory held by the rebels, that they might seek to expand in the coming days. These points were defined in the agreement on September 5 in Minsk between Ukraine, Russia and the rebels: a protocol buried on the ground by the ongoing hostilities. “Vladimir Putin has clarified some things,” explained the French delegation at the end of the interview, not to mention too many significant advances.

For their part, the Russians criticize France for blocking the delivery of two Mistral ships, scheduled for November. This topic has not been discussed at the meeting, assured Francois Hollande. “If the word Mistral is pronounced, it will be said to the top of my hat”, even amused a senior French official.

But behind the smiles, the situation is hopeless. The ships were ordered and paid for at the price of 1.2 billion euros in 2011 Moscow. France, bound by a contract, must normally deliver the goods. But while the European Union and United States sanctions apply to Russia because of its interference in Ukrainian affairs, Paris is unclear on delivering the notorious warships.

In return, the Kremlin turned up the pressure. On the eve of the opening of the G20, the Russian news agencies, citing a “highly placed anonymous source”, said that France would have two weeks until the end of November to deliver Vladivostok, the first of two buildings. Otherwise, Russia will launch financial proceedings.

“This is a threat to the credibility of an anonymous source,” swept back the French minister, saying that as long as things remain as part of a contract if both parties agree, the time may be extended. France is banking on the isolation of Russia on the international stage to establish a balance of power.

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