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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The G20 Guide

In the past few days the G-20 summit has been taking place in Toronto, Canada. It is a meeting of the Finance Ministers and central bank Governors of 19 prominent world Economies plus the EU. Of course many heads of State also attend the Summit which has grown is status significantly in the past few years.They have been held bi-annually. However, 2011 they are scheduled to be convened on an annual basis. The next meeting of the group will take place in South Korea in November. The first meeting of the group took place in 1999. Although some members such as the UK, France and Italy are represented as part of the EU contingent they do also send their own contingents to the meetings.

So what exactly does the G-20 do? The goal of the group of 20 is to reflect on issues of importance to the global economy. It differs from the G-8 in two main ways. Firstly, it's wider membership allows it to focus to a greater extent on the economies of developing economies. Also, unlike the G8, its doesn't seek consensus on issues, it is simply a forum for debate.

And what have the major developments of this particular summit been? Well, that is difficult to pinpoint. The leaders seem to be nearing a deal to half budget deficits over the next three years. However, their is widespread disagreement about how this should be done. Euro zone countries believe swift expenditure cuts are required in the wake of a weakening currency where as developing countries seek to limit these measures which they believe will effect there export based economies. As regards other issues such as Iran and North Korea, they were reserved for the G8.

Where the G-20 goes protests follow. Protests against globalisation are common at any major meeting of international leaders and Toronto is certainly no exception. While these demonstrations remained largely peaceful, there has been more than 400 arrests. At least two patrol cars have been burned out in what police have declared were the most destructive riots ever on the city's streets. Last year in London there was widespread outrage following the death of a man after the G20 Summit held there. It prompted debate about the use of excessive force by police in clashes with protesters. Undoubtedly the issue is something that will need to be investigated in the future once again.

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