Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘G20’

Why the Risk of Brexit Alarms the G20

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 27th February, 2016

G20 ShanghaiFinance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from the Group of 20*, meeting in Shanghai this week, have unanimously agreed that Britain’s possible withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) could pose a risk to the global economy. In a draft statement from China’s business capital they highlight this as one of the most serious potential dangers confronting the world economic outlook. Growth in many of the leading industrial economies is sluggish and there are particular concerns regarding the performance of the two biggest economies, the United States and China. “The global recovery continues, but it remains uneven and falls short of our ambition for strong, sustainable and balanced growth,” a draft statement from the summit says. The statement notes that markets have reacted adversely to economic anxieties exacerbated by such things as Britain’s possible exit from the EU, as well as the European refugee crisis. The British Chancellor, George Osborne, has seized on the communiqué to underline why the British government’s formal position is to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, despite opposition from many MPs within the ruling Conservative Party. The matter is being put to the British electorate in a referendum on 23 June, following Prime Minister David Cameron’s negotiations with his continental counterparts to promote limited EU reforms. Those campaigning for Brexit will doubtless maintain that this is another example of scaremongering by the “Remain” camp, but they should take note of the fact that the G20 is about as serious as it gets when it comes to global economic analysis and forecasting. The message is clear: Brexit would not just be a leap into the dark for Britain but would also cause instability within the EU and the wider world economy.

  • The G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, plus the European Union. For the first time, Egypt also joined the Shanghai summit.

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Could the G20 Sort out Syria?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 2nd September, 2013

Assad and PutinRussia G20I don’t always agree with (Lord) David Owen, but he made a valid point in an op ed piece in today’s London’s Evening Standard when he suggested that the G20 Summit in St Petersburg later this week could offer an important opportunity for negotiations to find a way out of the Syria impasse. The host of the Summit, of course, is Vladimir Putin, who is Bashar al-Assad’s closest European ally. And the G20 brings together an interesting mix of developed, emerging and developing countries: the Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, UK and US, plus the European Union. It is clear that there is stalemate on the ground in Syria; Assad is not losing, but he’s not winning either, and in the meantime yet more people get killed — over 110,00 already — and more refugees are created. The Syrian economy, as well as the country’s infrastructure and heritage, is being systematically destroyed. Despite the UK Parliament’s rejection of a military option last Thursday, it is still possible that the United States (if President Obama persuades Congress), France and Turkey may take part in a strike. But what exactly would that achieve. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote in a piece in this morning’s Daily Telegraph that it would be possible to call another vote in the Commons and that the aim of any military strike should be to punish Bashar al-Assad. Well, there is a growing consensus that the Assad regime was responsible for the 21 August chemical weapons attack; the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the latest authority to state that today. But as I said in a live interview on BBC Radio London this evening, surely the way to “punish” Assad and his clique would be to bring them before the ICC in The Hague, to face charges of crimes against humanity. I genuinely believe that is the best outcome, though I have no illusions about how difficult it may be to get him and his cohorts to The Hague. In the meantime, surely the prime concern must be to prevent as many deaths and as much suffering as possible. And the only plausible way to do that is convene the Geneva 2 peace conference that has been in the air for some time now. It may be uncomfortable to sit down with a dictator, but that may be the only sensible option — and it won’t happen unless Mr Putin is on board.

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A Seismic Shift in Global Politics?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 16th November, 2008

Yesterday’s G20 Summit in Washington may have been short on conclusions, but I think President Luis Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva of Brazil was probably right when he said that the balance of power in the world has changed irrevocably. Lula told reporters that the G8 — the world’s seven leading industrial economies plus Russia — was now unviable and irrelevant. ‘There is no logic to making any political and economic decisions without the G20 members,’ he said. ‘Developing countries must be part of the solution to the global financial crisis.’

So who are the G20? There are the old Big Seven — the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada — plus Russia, but they now joined by the three other ‘BRICs’: Brazil, China and India. That in itself has tilted the emphasis away from the North to the South. But that tilt has been underlined by the further addition of Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and South Korea. Australia is the only new truly ‘Western’ state, though for the first time the European Union (represented by the President of the European Commission) comes in in its own right, rather than just sitting in as an invited guest as in the past.

The fact that George W Bush is in the lame-duck final period of his eight-year presidency only served to exacerbate the decline in US hegemony, despite the summit’s being held in Washington. The unipolar world that came into being with the collapse of the old Soviet Union is now clearly well on its way to being a multipolar one. This won’t be a second American century. When Barack Obama joins the second G20 Summit — scheduled to be held in London some time before the end of April — the world will be a different place. So it is well that the president-elect is someone more attuned to multilateralism than the incumbent.

One striking thing about the G20 meeting itself was that it was no longer just a collection of men in suits (and their female equalivalents). With King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in his flowing robes and the Indian Prime Minister Mammohan Singh in his turban, the gathering began to look a little more like the world it is meant to be leading. Still only two women, though: Germany’s Angela Merkel and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

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The Credit Crunch and Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 11th November, 2008

New Year’s Day 2009 will see the tenth anniversary of the eurozone and it might be an appropriate moment for Britain to reopen the debate on adopting the euro, according to the distinguished economist Graham Bishop, who was the guest speaker at a lunch event put on by the London Europe Society in the London offices of the European Parliament today. Graham painted a pretty damning picture of the way Gordon ‘the prudent’ Brown has handled the economy along with his Chancellor Alistair Darling, the criticism made all the more stinging because of Graham’s gentle manner of exposition.

Quoting extensively from economic reports and forecasts produced by the European Commission, Graham showed how much worse Britain has been doing than the eurozone. The current account deficit is particularly worrying. Meanwhile, the pound has collapsed by nearly 25 per cent against the US dollar, making sterling look far less mighty than the British government has often proclamied.

On a different but equally concerning matter, Graham said he believed that the new US President, Barack Obama, might refuse to abide by any agreement George W Bush comes to with allied nations over the putative G20 proposals for a new Bretton Woods.

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