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G20 support builds to adopt ambitious target for global growth

Feb 22 2014, 18:45 IST
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SummaryThe world's top economies may agree to set an ambitious target for faster global growth at a weekend meeting in Sydney.

The world's top economies may agree to set an ambitious target for faster global growth at a weekend meeting in Sydney, where major central banks are also being urged to coordinate policies to avoid "surprises" that could further roil emerging markets.

Opening the two-day meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers on Saturday, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said support was building for setting a firm goal for growth.

"I have a great sense of hope that this G20 meeting will be able to lay down a real and tangible framework for an increase in the growth of the global economy over the next five years," said Hockey, who is hosting the Sydney gathering.

If adopted, the plan would be a departure for the G20, as previous attempts to set fiscal and current account targets have faltered. And while Canada's central bank chief Stephen Poloz called the goal "aspirational" and doubts remain about its implementation, it would give the group fresh focus and mark a sea change from recent meetings where the debate was all about growth versus budget austerity.

France's finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, welcomed a goal of lifting world growth by a total of 2.5 percentage points over five years, calling it ambitious but "not unrealistic".

A G20 source said Germany had dropped its opposition to setting an overall target, as long as there were no goals imposed for individual states.

However, not all the German camp seemed to be happy, with Jens Weidmann, head of the country's central bank, calling quantitative targets "problematic".

And Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa's Deputy Finance Minister, said the target would be meaningless unless issues faced by emerging economies such as inequality, high unemployment, and volatile global financial conditions were addressed.

IMF PLAN

The plan borrows wholesale from an International Monetary Fund paper prepared for the Sydney meeting which estimated that structural reforms would raise world growth by about 0.5 percentage point per year over the next five years, boosting global output by $2.25 trillion.

The IMF has forecast global growth of 3.75 percent for this year and 4 percent in 2015.

The laundry list of reforms run the usual gamut of liberalising product and labour markets, lowering barriers to trade, attracting more women into the workforce and boosting investment in infrastructure.

Still there were no details on how or whether the G20 would police each country's progress on the reforms, many of which would likely be politically unpopular at home.

Olli

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