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Setting a Diplomatic Milestone
Korea will host the G20 meeting next year to take the lead in solving global issues
Setting a Diplomatic Milestone
  • By matthew
  • October 15, 2009, 15:52
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Korea is to hold the most remarkable diplomatic event in its history. Korea is to host the November 2010 G20 economic summit. President Lee Myung-Bak and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement during a joint press conference on September 25. Canada is to co-host a meeting in June. “Upon the request of Premier Harper, the June meeting will be co-hosted and co-chaired by Korea, and we will actively cooperate,” said President Lee at the joint press conference.

Sakong Il, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association who is in charge of the G20 Summit Coordinating Committee, said “The summit leaders unanimously agreed to hold the next conference in Korea in November.” “Due to the time span being longer than a year between this year’s and next year’s meetings, an interim meeting will be held in Canada on the sidelines of the expanded G-8 summit in June.”

The G20 Summit represents 85% of the world’s gross domestic product and 80% of global trading volume. The gathering of the leaders of these leading economies to discuss global economic issues in Korea carries tremendous significance. “Hosting the meeting means Korea is taking a leading role in resolving global issues,” said Sakong.

The leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized nations have reportedly agreed to annualize the G20 summit from 2011 and the session in Korea is where this will begin from. The G20 framework is replacing the Group of Eight, which includes only developed nations Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The G20 leaders had their first summit in Washington D.C. in November 2008. The second round of meetings took place in London in April 2009 and the third meeting held in Pittsburgh in September. These G20 meetings were held to address the aftermath of the financial meltdowns that hit the world earlier this year. It is growingly acknowledged that the G-8 framework excludes emerging and developing economies that are increasingly taking up the global economic landscape. In particular, aid from the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) was necessary to resolve global liquidity issues. That is where the G20 summit idea came from.

The November meeting will be the first institutionalized one since the agreement to annualize the summits. The main agenda of the G20 summit so far have been stimulus measures in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. However, the November meeting will be the first meeting to deal with mid- to long-term future-oriented issues. An official from the government said that world leaders will discuss how to maximize the growth potential of the world economy and build up the green growth model in response to climate change.

At a joint press conference with foreign media including AP, Reuters and Dow Jones, President Lee presented three agenda for next year’s G20 meeting. First, he forecast that the world economy is likely to have grown out of the current crisis by November next year. Therefore, the meeting will be the first one that buttresses the G20 summit as a global network. According to the Blue House, President Lee is committed to making the G20 summit an established economic cooperation network under the main theme of cooperation towards an exit strategy and post-crisis vision for sustainable growth engines.

Second, since balanced growth is required for sustainable world economic growth, the main issues will be how to reflect the voices of emerging and developing economies in the G20 summit agenda. The third main agenda will be regarding a warning system for any future global crisis such as the financial meltdown that hit the world last year.

Korea has been working hard to host the G20 summit since the first round of meetings in 2008. This meeting was where Korea first entered the limelight in the international economic order, an order traditionally centered on the United States and Europe. President Lee impressed world leaders with his MB initiatives suggesting “Stand-Still” pledges among participants at the Washington G20 summit not to erect any new trade and investment barriers.

In the G20 summit in London in April, Korea actively participated in setting the agenda beforehand and ironing out the discord of opinions between nations and was acknowledged for its coordinating capability. As a result, U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to the idea that Korea host the 2010 G20 meeting.

One issue regarding the November 2010 meeting was the time span between meetings. Korea ironed out this problem by arranging another round of meetings in Canada on the sidelines of the G-8 summit. The next step was persuading the opposite group. Korea persuaded Japan, who strongly advocates the Group of Eight framework over the G20. In 2011, the G-8 chair France, will host the G20 summit.

Sakong, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association who is in charge of the G20 Summit Coordination Committee, played an important role in this success. Taking the chairmanship since the launch of the committee last November, he traveled around the world as an envoy of President Lee to persuade G20 summit participants to select Korea.

He also met with Lawrence Summers, U.S. President Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser who is in charge of the G20 summit in the U.S. three times to explain the reasons for institutionalization of the summit and Korea’s bid for hosting the next meeting. He also mobilized his own personal network during the bid.

Global interest is placed on whether next year’s meeting signals a shift in global leadership from the Group of Eight to the Group of 20. Experts forecast that a routine G20 summit will naturally replace the G-8 since it is too narrow to deal with global issues as proved during the unfolding global financial crisis.