Finance chiefs from rich and poor countries are buoyant about global growth but still worry about imbalances that cast a cloud on prospects, US Secretary of the Treasury John Snow said on Sunday.
At the end of the first day of a two-day session of the Group of 20, Snow said the mood was "upbeat, positive" among finance ministers and central bankers with many foreseeing global expansion at a rate around 3.5 percent to 4 percent for the next few years.
"In every single case, the tenor of the comments was that the world economy is on a pretty good course," Snow said.
Not everything was rosy, though, and "there was reference to the US current account deficit, to the China [currency] peg, to high debt levels in Latin America" as possible threats to expansion, he said.
US budget and trade deficits are at record levels, which has fed a debate led by US manufacturers whether China's decade-old practice of linking its yuan currency to the US dollar is giving it an unfair trade advantage.
Snow met Chinese officials separately to press the US case that China should permit market forces to have greater sway in valuing its currency, in recognition of China's rising status as a trade and political power.
"We reaffirmed our interest in seeing them move in that direction and they reaffirmed their intention to do so," Snow said, declining to answer more questions in view of scheduled testimony to Congress on Thursday on a report that deals with currency practices of China and other trade partners.
The G20 brings together officials from not only rich industrial nations but also emerging-market economies in a forum that gives the poorer countries a chance to express their trade and economic views directly to wealthier participants.
The gathering was to conclude yesterday with a formal communique and press conferences.
It is also an opportunity for bilateral talks on a range of hot-button matters, including the US bid to tighten curbs on terror finances and to raise money for Iraqi reconstruction.
Snow said that, in meetings with finance ministers from Germany and Russia, he found common ground on the US position that the rest of the world needed to pitch in quickly to help Iraq rebuild its ravaged economy.
France, Germany and Russia, which opposed the US-led invasion that toppled former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's regime, did not pledge money at a donors' conference for Iraq in Madrid last week.
But Snow said Russia and Germany both saw the need for helping Iraq, and cited German Finance Minister Hans Eichel's support for giving Iraq a boost.
Snow said that not only was money needed for Iraq, but donors were being asked to "accelerate pledges" of financial aid for Afghanistan, which has been struggling to achieve stability since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001.
"They had a sense of urgency as we do and were as co-operative and forward-leaning on that as you could hope for," said Snow, who was scheduled to have a similar discussion on Iraq yesterday with French Finance Minister Francis Mer.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks against US targets in New York and at the Pentagon, the US has been driving for a unified front in crimping terror groups' ability to move funds through the world banking system.
US officials also want more regulation of charities and informal money-exchange systems like the paperless "hawalas" widely used in the Middle East and South Asia.
Snow said he made the case to G20 participants that "the biggest threat there is to trade and globalization and commerce is terror itself" and that meant all nations had to cooperate.
"We need a global commitment that is as broad and wide as the terrorists' actions themselves," he said.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no