So as the fences come down, and I stop doing media interviews – about time - for the G8 and G20 Toronto summits, let’s reflect – for just a moment – on the summits just completed. Much as we anticipated, the Toronto G20 Summit did represent a ‘progress report’. Particularly with respect to financial regulatory reform and banking reform the leaders await reports from the IMF, the Financial Stability Board and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). Capital and liquidity ratios await leaders’ consideration – and hopefully agreement - in Seoul. It didn’t prevent disappointment – unwarranted I believe - but it was hardly a surprise.
I anticipate that the Government of Canada and Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper were generally quite pleased with the Toronto Summit. In particular obtaining hard targets in paragraph 10 on deficit and debt in the G20 Declaration – and notwithstanding President Sarkozy’s efforts to dismiss the specified targets as not targets – the results have to be seen as quite a success for the Prime Minister.
Though not expressed as such, I am sure that the Prime Minister and his officials were not equally pleased with the results of the G8 meeting. Most evident was the lack of support and G8 member countries’ contribution to the Prime Minister’s ‘signature initiative’ on maternal and child health – The Muskoka Initiative. Yet overall Canada is likely to receive a positive performance grade for its leadership of the two summits.
Less in evidence was China. As noted by Canada’s Globe and Mail paper, “China flies under the radar…” As I had noted earlier, China appears to act as “part-time global leader” and that seems to include this G20 summit. China appears to have been barely visible. Indeed it would appear that official action appeared to be concentrated on removing words about China from the Summit Declaration. In an early draft Declaration there appeared a statement welcoming “China’s efforts to boost domestic demand and to further reform the RMB exchange rate regime and enhance exchange rate flexibility.” We were advised that China objected to this congratulatory statement arguing that currency and presumably macroeconomic policy were domestic issues and that the statement impinged on Chinese sovereignty.
Now President Hu Jintao did issue an official statement, “Work in Unity for the Future.” And while the Chinese President did admirably praise the G20 and urged that the G20 ‘play a guiding role’ China did forego an opportunity to show real global leadership. Though the President pointed to the significant development assistance China has provided especially since the global financial crisis, he failed to step up and contribute to the Muskoka Initiative.
A chance for Chinese global leadership foregone.