Leaders focused on the following main areas in their discussions:
- Growth and employment: This topic constituted the “heart” of leaders’ conversations, resulting in a new Action Plan emphasizing the importance of structural reforms to lift the potential growth rate of their economies and boost jobs and exports.
- Financial regulation: Leaders endorsed the work done thus far by the Financial Stability Board, including progress on the implementation of global capital standards (Basel III), the trading of over-the-counter derivatives, the resolution on too-big-to-fail financial institutions and, finally, shadow banking.
- Fiscal sustainability and debt reduction: Despite consensus on this topic, however, leaders did not commit to any specific common, quantitative target in terms of debt-to-GDP ratios (with the notable exception of Canada).
- Open trade: Leaders envisioned this being achieved through the broad multilateral, WTO-led framework as well as regional and plurilateral agreements, such as the one currently being negotiated between the United States and the European Union.
- Exchange of tax-related information: Commitment on this agenda item was managed by adopting a relatively tight timeframe.
- Climate change: Leaders reiterated a commitment to a full implementation of the outcomes of Cancun, Durban and Doha to reduce carbon emissions.
In the subtle, coded words of official communiqués, leaders also:
- warned China that its current account rebalancing may reflect conjunctural, not just structural, elements;
- cautioned Germany against its lukewarm support for a strong banking union; and
- complained that the United States had failed to ratify the 2010 International Monetary Fund governance reform, thus blocking the package from entering into effect.
What was largely absent from the communiqué is how leaders intend to address the global demand deficit the world economy is still experiencing, especially given the slowdown in the emerging economies and the stabilization of the euro-zone economies at (very) low levels of activity.