ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – Despite the U.S.-Russia standoff over the Syrian civil war and Moscow’s granting of temporary asylum of U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, they managed to sit down at the table of the Group of 20 summit Thursday to look at the fluctuating global economic picture.
On the first day of the two-day meeting, which focuses on economic and financial matters, the G-20 leaders exchanged views on steps to boost employment and economic growth, as recent financial market turmoil has cast a shadow over emerging economies.
Representing more than 80 percent of world gross domestic product, the G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The G-20 members discussed how to deal with lingering fears that the predicted winding down of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary stimulus could result in an outflow of capital from emerging economies, a Japanese official said.
The leaders also reaffirmed the necessity of fiscal consolidation, as advanced economies have pledged to develop “credible” medium-term fiscal strategies by the St. Petersburg summit following a meeting they held in Los Cabos, Mexico, in June 2012.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso participated in the first day of the session.
Abe explained his medium-term fiscal reform plan, approved by the Cabinet last month, though he has yet to decide whether to lift the consumption tax to 8 percent next April.
Aso told reporters after the first day that other counties did not ask about the tax matter, despite growing concern that the newly crafted plan, which is not premised on the scheduled tax increase, may not be seen as “credible.”
Aso said Japan “can gain understanding” of its medium-term fiscal plan, adding Abe will make a final decision on the tax hike in early October while comprehensively assessing economic conditions.
Fiscal rehabilitation is one of the key challenges Abe is facing, as the economy is on the verge of beating nearly two decades of deflation on the back of his policies dubbed “Abenomics,” entailing drastic monetary easing, massive fiscal spending and a growth strategy aimed at bolstering private-sector investment.
Japan’s fiscal health is the worst among major developed economies, with its public debt level equivalent to more than 200 percent of GDP.
Abe skipped the summit’s second day so he could go to Argentina and take part in Tokyo’s final presentation to the International Olympic Committee for hosting the 2020 Summer Games.
Aso attended the summit Friday in place of Abe.
MMC EV delivered
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Thursday it has delivered 70 i-MiEV electric vehicles to the Presidential Administration of Russia. They are the first EVs in the presidential office’s car fleet.
The Russian government immediately began to use the EVs to transport VIPs at the Group of 20 summit being held at the Konstantinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg.
With the adoption of the EVs, the Russian government is apparently seeking to show the international community it is serious about tackling the issue of carbon dioxide emissions.
The automaker said it is also the first time a Japanese vehicle has been accepted for use in the Russian presidential office’s fleet.