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Tuesday, 11 December 2012 08:40

G20 too ‘Eurocentric’, says expert

Written by Idéle Esterhuizen

University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business professor Mills Soko has expressed concern over the G20 group of industrialised countries’ ability to assist Africa in achieving growth and overcoming its challenges, deeming it to be too ‘Eurocentric’.

Speaking at the first yearly African G20 conference, he suggested that the group’s five European members be reduced to one. Commending the outreach approach of Russia, which is chairing the G20 leaders meeting in 2013, to include nonmember economies, Soko added that countries such as Thailand could make a valuable addition to the G20.

Russian Embassy second secretary Yaroslav Shishkin told delegates attending the conference in Pretoria that Russia was holding consultations with nonmember countries. “…as our President has said the G20 should not be closed, it should work for everyone.”

The G20 would have to engage with nonmember countries and inform them about the group’s principles and agenda to gain their trust, he said.

South Africa is the only African member of the G20, which accounts for 90% of global gross domestic product.

South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) economic diplomacy programme head Catherine Grant-Makokera said South Africa’s five key priorities, as determined by SAIIA, for G20, included the financial regulatory environment; economic crisis management; inclusive growth; particularly through job creation; economic development and financing investment.

“We have been fairly successful on a number of these points. In South Africa, the focus over the last two years has been on mobilising domestic resources as a critical priority for alternative financing development in the African countries,” she highlighted.

Grant-Makokera added that there were synergies between South Africa’s growth concerns and the Russian G20 presidency’s 2013 agenda that was also aimed at fostering growth.

The Russian presidency’s approach was to achieve growth through creating quality jobs and investment; effective regulation, as well as trust and transparency.

Shishkin said these issues would be discussed in more depth at the 2013 G20 Summit.

“Russia will propose several new issues, including financing investments as the basics of growth and the creation of jobs, as well as modernising the national system of sovereign borrowing and managing sovereign debt,” he indicated.

Shishkin added that the global debt situation has hampered much-needed investment. “We need a clear vision of direction of where the affected counties will move to reduce their debt, and investors fear what choice countries will make to reduce their debt.”

Meanwhile, Grant-Makokera pointed out that South Africa faced the challenge of having its own set of urgent domestic government priorities, which made it difficult to justify spending money and resources on multilateral processes such as the G20.

She indicated that the debate on whether large amounts of resources should be used on such international programmes started this year.

Grant-Makokera further stated that, as G20 was only one of many groups and clubs that South Africa was a member of, transparency about what comes out of meetings was imperative. To complement this, some level of accountability and a communication strategy that shared information with the broader range of stakeholders about exactly what South Africa could get out of G20 was also important.

“Another challenge is balancing the national, regional, provincial and continental priorities of South Africa and Africa. We [South Africa] are the only official member of G20 from Africa and there is a sense that South Africa has to be the voice of Africa at the table, this is complex burden,” she said.

A draft paper by University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights professor Danny Bradlow suggested that the G20 was unlikely to meet the needs of all stakeholders in global economic governance.

The paper, presented at the conference, argued that the need existed to establish a basis for critically assessing the performance of the key players in global economic governance and proposed a five-part assessment framework, which it applied to the outputs of the 2012 G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

It was found that the G20 was unable to fully comply with any part of the assessment framework.

 

By Idéle Esterhuizen, reporter with Engineering News. Originally published on polity.org.za.

This conference was run by GEGAfrica. Click here to see the event details.

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