Business

G-20 finance chiefs begins talks on growth, infrastructure investment

Kyodo

Finance chiefs from the Group of 20 major economies began a two-day meeting Thursday in Washington to exchange views on global growth, assess slowdown risks and ways to spur investment in infrastructure.

Among the topics likely to be addressed are deflation risks in the eurozone signaled by its persistently low inflation rate amid high unemployment, sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and turmoil in the Middle East.

The 20 nations, including China, Germany, Japan and the United States, will also likely discuss ways to spur investment to meet growing demand for infrastructure in emerging markets in an effort to raise global growth.

The finance ministers and central bank governors may conclude the meeting without a joint communique, since the economic outlook remains little changed from their previous meeting in Cairns, Australia, last month, sources close to the matter said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is not participating in the meeting due to a scheduling conflict.

The meeting precedes the G-20 summit next month in Brisbane, Australia. The goal is to meet a growth target by adopting a comprehensive strategy.

The G-20 members, which represent more than 80 percent of global economic output, set a goal earlier this year to lift their collective gross domestic product by 2 percent by 2018, by sparking private-sector investment and employment.

The members have already agreed on an initiative to further promote the use of private-sector funds to boost construction of infrastructure for train and power generation systems and other facilities needed to support rapid economic growth in emerging countries.

Even for advanced nations, facilitating investment in new infrastructure is crucial to bolster their economies, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters ahead of the meeting.

Australia is expected to take the lead on concrete steps, such as setting up a body to gather data on infrastructure projects worldwide, a conference source said.

Currencies, however, will not be raised as a key issue despite the dollar’s recent surge as long as the currency stays around current levels, Japanese officials said.

Few discussions are expected on tightening banking rules to prevent taxpayers from having to rescue troubled major banks. The issue will likely be left for G-20 leaders to discuss at the next meeting in Brisbane, the officials said.

The G-20 members also include Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union.

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