Monday, November 24, 2008


Who are the players at the G20 summit?

Financial Post, with files from Reuters
Published: Friday, November 14, 2008

Argentina                Brazil           Mexico                Australia
China                         India           Canada                France  
Italy                           Germany    Indonesia           Japan
Mexico                      Russia          Saudi Arabia    United States
United Kingdom   Turkey         South Korea      South Africa

Argentina is one of three Latin American countries, along with Brazil and Mexico, to be taking part in the first G20 leaders summit. The struggling nation, which last month announced it was buying out the country's private pension system, is a strong supporter of the need for emerging economies to play a greater role in a solution to the current financial turmoil.

Interests To continue to have its voice heard in international affairs.

Who is attending Cristian Fernandez de Kirchner, President.

Australia hopes to use this weekend's summit to fight protectionist trade measures proposed by some countries, including the United States, in response to the global economic crisis. It plans to push a global free-trade pact, despite the failed Doha talks in Geneva earlier this year. Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said governments would also need to act together to improve financial regulation and stimulate economic growth.

Interests Expand trade ties and promote a global free-trade agreement.

Who is attending Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister.

Brazil, along with China and India, is a critical growth engine for the slowing developed economies. The emerging market is aiming for a stronger G20 so it can play a greater role in the global decision-making process. The country has proposed that the G20 meets biannually, instead of once a year, before the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. Brazil has also called for the expansion of the G7 to include large emerging market economies -- such as itself.

Interests To emerge a more dominant force in global negotiations.

Who is attending Lula da Silva, President

Canada has been using its success at withstanding the financial crisis to promote its "boring' fiscal policy as a global model. A member of the G7, Canada has supported involving emerging markets in a solution to the global crisis. But with its banks relatively sound, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has telegraphed that Canada places the duty of keeping its own house in order a priority before conforming to global coordinated efforts.

Interests Expand ties with the emerging markets while withstanding Europe's push towards a global financial regulator.

Who is attending Stephen Harper, Prime Minister

The size of China and the nation's rapid rise up the economic ranks has developed countries leaning on it for growth. The country has amassed almost US$2-trillion in foreign exchange reserves and its banks largely avoided becoming entangled in the subprime mortgage mess. As a result, China is the key swing state in determining the outcome of the G20 meeting, said John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto.

Interests China believes the best contribution it could make to the stressed global economy is to focus efforts domestically.

Who is attending Wen Jiabaom, Premier

The European Union has a revolving seat at the G20 and is represented by the current chair of the European Union, which is France. However, Spain will temporarily fill the EU's seat this weekend. France, Italy and Germany, though part of the EU, have their own seats at the table. Under France's guidance, the EU has been pushing for greater regulation of global financial markets. But positions within the union are mixed. Members from Central and Eastern Europe have been reluctant to bow to further regulation.

Interests An internationally coordinated response to the financial crisis.Who is attending Jose Manual Barroso, President

France is expected to push for quick decisions in Washington as well as follow-up meetings. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been the most active in promoting "supranational" regulation or supervision for financial markets, hedge funds, private equity, mortgage lenders and sovereign wealth funds. He hopes the summit will kickstart a solution to the financial meltdown. It is also believed France will push for another G20 meeting soon after Barack Obama takes office on Jan. 20.

Interests Increasing the powers of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to act as a global regulator.

Who is attending Nicholas Sarkozy, President

Germany, while not as hard-lined as its French ally, has been pushing for an overhaul of the global financial system. Despite its involvement at the G20 summit, it believes the key decisions on market reform will come out of the G8 summit in Italy in July. Like it's European neighbour, Germany advocates global market transparency and supervision. It supports an early warning system for the market, as well as the creation of measures to prevent investors from seeking short-term profits.

Interests For the IMF to play a greater supervisory role for the global financial system.

Who is attending Angela Merkel, Chancellor

India has been looking to play a greater role in world affairs and considers itself a spokesperson for the developing world. It has called for reforms to the G7/G8, as well as the United Nations Security Council, in order to get a seat at the negotiating table. "Our voice on how to manage this crisis in a way that does not jeopardize our development priorities needs to be heard in international councils," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last month.

Interests India seeks assurance against Western protectionism but still wants to be able to keep protections in place for its farmers.

Who is attending Manmohan Singh Prime Minister

Indonesia plans to use this weekend's summit to propose a global expenditure fund to ease the impact of the financial crisis on developing nations. The country has also taken a stance against trade protectionist measures and recently made a joint statement with Australia expressing its support for a global free-trade pact. The country strongly supports the inclusion of the emerging market in a solution to the crisis.

Interests To press the case for wealthier nations to aid emerging market economies hurt by the global slowdown.

Who is attending Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President

Italy has been calling for tougher regulation of hedge funds and has even suggested they be banned altogether. The country, which has proposed an extension of the G8 to G14, also believes the global foreign-exchange system should be replaced with one that gives more prominence to the euro. It advocates a greater regulatory role for the IMF and has trumpeted a rollback of free-market philosophy. Italy has had one of the most sluggish economies in Europe.

Interests The creation of strict global financial market regulation.

Who is attending Silivio Berlusconi, Prime Minister

Japan, which is already a member of the G7, is likely to use the G20 summit to gain clout for bailing out struggling emerging markets. Prime Minister Taro Aso is expected to announce that his government is willing to offer US$106-billion worth of foreign reserves to the IMF if the Washington-based lender needs extra funds to help emerging markets. Japan has been buying assets in the struggling U.S. banking sector.

Interests Withstand Europe's push for a global regulator and expand its influence with emerging markets.

Who is attending Taro Aso, Prime Minister

Mexico will push for G20 members to formulate more transparent financial market regulations and a review of the current system to prevent the recurrence of a wide-spread financial crisis. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said he envisions a global financial system with shared responsibilities. The country has strongly voiced its opinion that the emerging market economies be included in future G7 summits.

Interests To play a role in a coordinated response to the financial crisis.

Who is attending Felipe Calderon, President

Russia has been a strong critic of the U.S. and its role in the current financial crisis. It plans to use the G20 summit to reduce Washington's influence. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has urged a radical reform of the world's political and economical system. Russia has also criticized the IMF for making lending decisions based on "political grounds". The country believes the G8, of which it is a member, should be extended to include more countries.

Interests Increase its world influence while eroding that of the U.S.

Who is attending Dmitry Medvedev, President

Saudi Arabia is the only Middle Eastern country included in the G20. The oil-rich state has become an important source of potential funds to alleviate the credit-squeeze in global markets. The country not only has resources and wealth, but is a key player in regional security, making it an important ally.

Interests Saudi Arabia is likely to use its position as the world's biggest oil exporter to seek U.S. protection against Iran's growing regional power and nuclear ambitions.

Who is attending King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz

South Africa is the only African nation to be represented at the G20 summit, a decision that has angered the African Development Bank. The banks say African countries are suffering from the financial crisis and are under-represented in talks about a market recovery plan. South Africa's economy appears headed for recession. The country has expressed concern about the "misalignment" of power in global talks.

Interests To strengthen the voice of emerging market economies in international negotiations.

Who is attending Kgalema Motlanthe, President

South Korea is expected to hold emergency talks with Japan and China on the sidelines of the G20 summit. It is believed the countries will discuss an increase in currency swap lines to help South Korea stimulate its currency. The won has been battered amid wild swings in currency markets. The Bank of Korea has also set up a domestic bond fund to help exporters unable to access U.S. dollars.

Interests To bolster the won and participate in a global plan to ease the financial market crisis.

Who is attending Lee Myung-bak, President

Turkey has been hard hit by the financial crisis and many speculate the country will need to borrow from the IMF, a lender of last resort. While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country can avoid such a measure, business leaders have voiced their support for an IMF loan.

Interests To avoid an IMF loan and reduce the impact of the financial crisis on its economy.

Who is attending Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister

The United Kingdom plans to use the G20 to promote globally coordinated policies in response to the financial crisis. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said "very special measures" were needed, including coordinated interest rate cuts, fiscal stimulus and the recapitalization of banks. The U.K. is also expected to push the need for global free-trade talks.

Interests Formulate an urgent response to the financial crisis, and push co-ordinated monetary policies.

Who is attending Gordon Brown, Prime Minister

United States This weekend's summit is the U.S.'s attempt to regain economic leadership. John Kirton of the G20 Research Group, said the summit recognizes the U.S. can no longer lead the global economy on its own or with the G7 member countries. Marc Chandler, head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York, said the outgoing Bush administration will be in no position to negotiate.

Interests To strengthen its leadership and co-ordinate a market rescue.

Who is attending George W. Bush, President

Women 'try to set fire to porn shop' in sweden

Two young women tried to set fire to a pornographic video shop in Malmö on Thursday night, police have said.The women, 23 and 26, were arrested at 12:45 am near the shop on Bergsgatan in the city."They were outside the shop, and set fire to a phone book. They also tried to set fire to an antenna cable that led into the video store," said police spokesman Lars-Håkan Lindholm to The Local.As well as housing the porn shop, the block housed a number of apartments.

Police were called to the scene by someone who saw what the young women were doing. It is not yet clear whether the women's action was a political statement or whether they had another motive."They are going to be questioned. There's nothing yet to indicate a motive. They had been drinking vodka however, and they were pretty drunk," said Lindholm.
The women are suspected of attempted arson, but police say their attempt was a long way from being successful.

"It was pretty clumsily done," said Lindholm.