The Deep Shadows Cast by the Brilliant G20
|The Deep Shadows Cast
by the Brilliant G20
The G20 Seoul Summit will be held this year on the 11th and 12th of November. This G20 Summit has been called due to the global financial crisis that began in the U.S.A. In the past all G20 Summits had been hosted by G7 countries: the U.S.A., Japan, the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, and Italy. This summit is the first time a G20 country has been chosen to host. The worldwide economic agenda will be discussed in Seoul. Korea hopes to act as a moderator between advanced countries and developing countries, and the entire world will focus on Korea. However, this summit is viewed by many as powerful countries pursuing their own interests, and has received a great deal of criticism. On the other hand, other observers expect that this summit will change the G20’s focus. There are many pros and cons associated with this summit, so we need to examine both sides to really understand its meaning.
The History of the G20
Mr. Kim, a senior of Public Administration, said “I don’t know much about the G20 although I have seen information about it many times through the mass-media.” Ms. Kang, a sophomore of English Language & Literature, said “I know this summit is being held in Seoul and the organization of the summit, but I don’t know much about its agenda.” Ms. Kim, a sophomore of International Commerce and Business, said “I have seen many activities dealing with the G20 Seoul Summit, but I don’t know anything about it except its title.”
As we can see from the above statements, many of YU’s students don’t know much about the G20 Seoul Summit. The G20 was formed in 1999 stemming from a discussions of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), it consisted of 7 developed countries (the U.S.A., Japan, France, the U.K., Germany, Italy, and Canada), 12 emerging market countries (Korea, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey), as well as whichever country that held the EU presidency. The total GDP of these countries accounts for 90% of the world’s GDP.
The G20 started as the G5 (the U.S.A., Japan, the U.K., France, and Germany) due to the energy crisis in 1974. In 1975, it was expanded to the G6 (G5 and Italy), and then the G7 (G6 and Canada) in 1976 and it was decided that the position of finance minister for this group would rotate among the member countries. The G8 (G7 and Russia) was established later, but the previously established system was maintained. Many countries realized the need for a cooperative system to ensure a stable world economy that included advanced countries and developing countries. However, previous meetings of this group have received criticism as being “chaos conferences” because of anti-globalization protests. Finally, the G20 (which started as meetings between financial secretaries and central bank governors) discussed comprehensive economic challenges such as globalization, aging, as well as possible solutions to these problems as a means of preventing repeats of the financial crisis that occurred in 1999. Also, they are the 20 most influential countries among the IMF members. As previously mentioned their combined GDPs accounts for 90% of whole the world, in addition their trade volumes accounts for 80% of whole the world, and their populations accounts for 2/3 of the world. This means they have the ability to dictate policy to developing countries because they monopolize the world’s economy and resources. Eventually, they have many expectations and concerns at the same time.
Previous G20 Summits
After the subprime credit crunch, the world has felt the need for a policy of cooperation between developed countries and developing countries in order to overcome current and future economic crises. The G20 Summit was formerly attended primarily by finance ministers and central bank directors. The Seoul Summit will be the fifth meeting of this body, and attendance will be expanded to include heads of states and influential corporate executives. The first G20 Summit was held in Washington D.C. (November, 2008) , and cooperative policies were emphasized to promote survival in an open economy. Developed countries were concerned with improving economic conditions in rapidly developing countries. The second Summit was held in London (April, 2009). At this meeting the main discussions focused on improvements for reinforcing economic activities through the IMF and the FSB (Financial Stability Board). The third Summit was held in Pittsburgh (September, 2009), and the last Summit was in Toronto (June, 2010). There were as many problems from the Toronto Summit as there were solutions. There was an agreement at this summit to hold the next one in Seoul. The Toronto Summit established a cooperative system to promote sustainable development as well as an agreement on common policy goals. The G20 decided the best goal was to promote economic recovery by forming the fundamentals for economic development. The summit also established global financial security safety nets. However, there were still several problems that were not addressed at the Toronto G20 Summit. For example, the global financial system still did not exert enough influence on the world economy. Employment was a focal point of the summit, however, there was little progress made on climate change and other developmental problems. Toronto has since passed the ball to Seoul.
Seoul, Host of the 5th G20 Summit
Seoul was selected to host this summit for several reasons. One of the primary reasons for Seoul’s selection to host the summit is Korea’s unified national power and exemplary efforts in overcoming the economic crisis. Korea has been noticed for taking a leadership position after the Washington and London Summits. Korea insisted on blocking protective trade, and this has been recognized as a great accomplishment. In addition, Korea called for economic cooperation and financial regulations in London. To solve the international economic crisis, advanced countries which have reduced their economic expectations believe there is a need for increased international cooperation.
Preparations for the G20 Seoul Summit
Seoul established the Presidential Committee for the G20 Summit in November 2009. The committee combined G20 related organizations in the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Members of this committee are comprised of ministry officials and senior secretaries in the current government. The committee will establish agendas and adjust individual positions ahead of the summit. They will strive to improve awareness and understanding through international and national publicity campaigns. For instance, several G20 related organizations are operating media centers. They have also successfully prepared event halls. The committee has also made preparations for international guests such as government officials and foreign press members. Furthermore, they will hold discussions with leading corporate figures and think tanks in order to prepare the most effective and relevant agendas. In all a massive cooperation system has been constructed in order to make sure this summit runs more smoothly than the previous ones.
Issues at the G20 Seoul Summit
World leaders have created economic policies of mutual assistance to overcome careless management. The summit will also provide the G20 with a framework for sustainable development. Trade surplus nations will explore ways to increase domestic demand and trade deficit nations will seek to establish saving policies for balanced growth. As part of a new agenda, the G20 may propose a global financial security net such as the Doha Development Agenda, and Tokyo Protocol. To address poverty in developing countries, the G20 in Seoul will discuss ways to reduce the gap between advanced countries and underdeveloped nations. The Seoul G20 Summit will also hold debates regarding the Toronto agendas. However, most of the issues regarding the Toronto Summit involve the U.S.A. Although the situation in the U.S. is one of the central focuses of this summit they have for the most part failed to maintain any of the agendas that were discussed at prior Summits.
In addition, there will be two primary focal points of the G20 Seoul Summit that will deal with existing and new agendas. The existing agendas will cover the global economic recovery. It has for the most part been steady, but recovery rates are different in each country and in different regions. At the Pittsburgh Summit there were discussions about an international cooperation system to promote rebalancing for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, as well as a shared goal to improve quality of life in developed and developing countries. They established a framework to carry out these agendas. However, there are still concerns about "Too-Big-To-Fail" (pertaning to an enterprise deemed too important to the economy or polity to be allowed to fail that is to be liquidated or to go bankrupt) financial institutions. It is believed that if any of these entities are liquidated or to go bankrupt the entire economy could fail. One of the reasons for the current crisis is that governments failed to effectively regulate many of these large financial agencies, and they were allowed to speculate with public funds. As a result of this situation, FSB and BCBS (Basel Committee on Banking Supervision) are currently discussing constructing a system to address these problems. Furthermore, IFI (International Financial Institute) will be reformed and surveillance will intensify to reflect the changing worldwide economy because this financial crisis spread to several countries. The G20 countries monopolize world trade and the global economy, so protectionism should be obstructed. At the G20 Summits that were held in Washington, London, and Pittsburgh, this agenda was also discussed. In response the G20 established "Financial Inclusion" agenda. This has been an issue at every Summit and seems to be a perpetual problem.
Secondly, there will be new agendas and issues discussed at the G20 Seoul Summit. FSN (Global Financial Safety Net) construction will be discussed. It will serve as a bridge that connects developed and developing countries. Korea went through the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and had to take an IMF bailout loan. At that time the FSN would have been very helpful, and would have made Korea’s recovery much easier. It is a protective measure against financial crises as well as a countermeasure to regulate capital outflows. If it is established, we can decrease incentives for accumulating foreign exchange reserves, which often leads to global currency imbalances. Many people expect that Korea will be able to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries because Korea is the paradigm for developing countries who are working toward overcoming poverty and starvation, as well as currency & financial crises. An important focus of the summit in Seoul will be the development of developing countries. Although this agenda was discussed in Pittsburgh and at that time the foundation of this agenda was established it will be institutionalized at this summit. The Seoul Summit represents the growth of international economic cooperation and management systems that began at the Washington, London, and Pittsburgh Summits. Specifically, the goal is the institutionalization of the G20 and the inclusion of non-member countries, and setting up offices for them. This agenda has been discussed since the Sherpa meetings in 2010.
This summit also has great meaning for our country as an international presence. Specifically, our national brand will be improved worldwide. The world will also have to acknowledge our ability in overcoming this latest crisis. The most important outcome of the G20 Seoul Summit is that Korea can take a leadership role in world economic discussions. Korea can demonstrate that action is better than just talk in contrast to Toronto which put forth impractical and inefficient policy ideas. Korea will also be in a position to mediate between advanced countries and developing countries. Therefore, Korea should concentrate on bridging diplomacy that regulates practices between G20 members and non-member countries. This is referred to as a horizontal network. These actions call for democratic deliberation. There are many opportunities for Korea presented by this summit; however we must still tread carefully. It is important to guard against arrogance in order to not offend other members.
Interview with a Volunteer, Go-Eun Kim
Freshman, Department of Chinese Language & Culture at Sungshin Womens University
Q) Why did you apply to volunteer at the G20 Seoul Summit even though the period of service is so long?
A) I believe that this experience will give me proud memories because this summit is very important. The summit is the first G20 conference in Asia, and I am proud that I can participate in this summit.
Q) What activities do volunteers do?
A) Mostly service related activities like introducing accommodations. We will be expected to do many things in and out of the convention. Most of all, we have to show a good and kind image of real Koreans.
Q) What can we do to help with this summit even though we are not volunteers?
A) All Koreans are volunteers. Diplomacy does not have to be difficult and it starts with minor activities such as, obeying traffic signals, being quiet in public places, and smiling to stranger. These activities affect Korea’s image.
Q) What is your level of preparedness ahead of the summit?
A) I hope to show a kind Korean image through these volunteer activities. I will always work hard to create a more attractive Korea that is why I take my volunteer work so seriously.
Volunteers for the G20 Summit are divided based on levels of foreign language ability. Beginning levels will perform traffic control duties. Intermediate levels will carry out introduction of tourism culture. Advanced levels will provide support at event halls and hotel information desks. The committee established members called Young Ambassadors. They are comprised of sixty university students and foreigners.They will also operate 20 teams representing 20 countries. The members communicate to citizens of the world through blogs and social network services. Furthermore, they publicize on/off activity. Volunteers surveyed many students and citizens. Foreigner volunteers participate in translation and publicity in their native languages.
There are also some pressing concerns. We can see active preparations for the G20 but there are many hidden problems we are not well aware of. Almost all committee members have economies that are connected globally, but their real purpose is to protect their own national interests. The G20 also has similar ambition. One of these deals with the treatment of migrant workers. Ministry of Justice officials have been known to harshly interrogate and poorly treat migrant workers when they are found in the country. Deportation is automatic, and there is no chance that the migrant worker will be able to make a plea to stay in the country. This is plainly a violation of human rights. The ministry has created incentives for public servants to find migrant workers, so they strive to throw them out. The ministry is playing both sides against the middle. If a migrant worker reports an illegal immigrant to the ministry, the officials provide money for it. The second deals with a special law on security for the G20 Summit. It signifies that the authorities can send the military to block protest gatherings. Korea will gives all power to the chief of the presidential security service and not the Ministry of National Defense. And then, control will be exercised by the ruling party alone. The military is never supposed to be deployed in society unless the whole country is under martial law. Currently, the nation has 20,000 riot police, but Korea thought the army should be employed for the G20 Seoul Summit. Using the army is an infringement on our basic rights, such as the Law on Assembly and Demonstrations, and the freedom of expression. The current government has already passed a law to restrict gatherings, so deploying the army is an unnecessary and excessive measure. The third issue is a tight fiscal policy. The policy had been announced by the IMF, and the G20 accepted an active tight fiscal policy. This means that the rich nations will not be willing to pay to reduce budget deficits. Korea has demonstrated policies that can lead to financial health. For instance, the Ministry of Health & Welfare is advancing a plan by which the ministry will reduce pension payments of senior citizens by up to 40 percent. There are also several problems related to Europe. A few months ago, there was a serious economic shock in southern Europe. The G20 agreed to solve the subprime mortgage problems that created a crisis in southern European countries at the Toronto Summit.
The G20 Seoul Summit is attracting the attention of the world as well as that of Koreans. Korea has grown into an economic giant and we will debate with other developed countries in order to have a great social, international benefit about world agendas. Therefore, many government officials and citizens are making preparations for a successful G20 Summit. It is important for all of us to know about the state of affairs, but it is also important to understand that the summit could provide work and social revival to nations in reality. There are two sides to this equation. There will also be several tests and challenges to the world. Therefore, we should deliberate more carefully about what will come out of the G20 summit.
Interview with an Objector
Reporter of We Media, Bryan Kim
Q) What are your thoughts about the course and conclusion of past summits?
A) The G20 is an international cooperation committee that has been held in only four countries. It is a baby step. The summits don’t make clear conclusions because G20 Summits were started to handle urgent situations. If I estimate the whole course and conclusion of the G20, I have admitted that cooperation of the G20 has had a sedating effect on other countries and created stability in local economies. It is too early to talk clearly about conclusions, and these points have caused objectors to come out. That’s the reason why we need remedies.
Q) How is this summit different from previous ones?
A) I don’t have much information on the Korean G20 summit. Being the host nation can be meaningless because Korea cannot exert its influence on G7 or G13 countries. Hence the authorities can’t exploit their position well. Even as Korea is hosting the G20 summit, there are still several serious issues that will not be discussed. We should take pride in being one of the few G20
countries members that have been able to pass through
the ongoing worldwide economic crisis. However, many experts believe that this meeting of the G20 will not be able to identify regional and national unifying points for all the members as part of the world community.
Q) What do we need to do to correct the problems of the G20?
A) I see the G20’s problems as not being about the G20 itself, but the aggravations that are caused by the G20. Toronto is facing lawsuits totaling over 450 million dollars after they hosted the G20 summit, and financial problems have hit Toronto. It is beyond our imagination. Being the host nation of the G20 summit is not as good as it looks if we go through what Toronto experienced. Damage to citizens is also a great problem as well as financial matters. The G20 causes resentment from people and the world when people are hurt because of the G20. Students should know more about the issues that the G20 deals with. If students are not interested in the G20 they don’t know enough about politics and the economy.
Interview with a Supporter
Professor of Kyungbuk National University, Jung-Tae Lee
Q) What is the importance of the G20 Summit in Seoul?
A) The most important thing is that Korea is the G20’s host nation which means we arrange the agendas and exercises that influence resolutions that are not only political, but also economic. In other words, Korea can fix agendas that concern our country most directly. As a result, hosting the G20 can help us protect our rights and protect our interests. The host nation can also take the lead and take advantage of convention industries and improve on national rights.
Q) There are many concerns about this summit, what do you think about this situation?
A) The G20 gathers the leaders of world to one site. The presence of these leaders is a great boost to Korea’s position. It is our nation’s solemn duty. There are no
agencies specifically trained to protect against special
terrorist groups. The lack of traing makes us especially vulnerable to this situation. Therefore, I insist that involving the military is an absolute necessity.
Q) What is your hope for the summit?
A) The G20 may be of no concern to most citizens, but citizens need to take on an important role so we should be ambassadors, and inform others about Korea. To have success, each local government should take one country such as the U.S.A., the U.K., and Saudi Arabia, so we have to publicize Korea through tourism and publicity. It is a good way. The most important thing is that Korea should finish the summit without any incidents. Citizens in Korea would like to attract attention, but not the wrong kind of attention.