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PM in London for G-20 summit
Ashok Tuteja writes from London

The stage is set for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other world leaders to gather here on Thursday for the G-20 summit, amid high expectations that the meet would evolve a global financial rescue strategy to deal with not only the current situation but also to prevent the recurrence of such a crisis.

What has worried the British authorities is the string of massive protests being organised by various groups in protest against the summit, billed as an event that will cost nearly £20 million to the exchequer. On top of it is the threat of the so-called dirty bomb, that has prompted the authorities to order fortress-like security for the world leaders, who include US President Barack Obama.

The summit, being held at a time when there is a global crisis of extraordinary magnitude, aims to look at the world economic situation, review the achievements of the G-20 summit held in Washington in November last year, and make a mark in putting the global economy on the road to recovery.

The G-20 countries, which represent 85 per cent of the world's GDP, are expected to make decisions, which will matter to each country as to how they will engage in a globally coordinated action to end the meltdown.

The London meet is taking place against the backdrop of exceptionally challenging economic circumstances. But, just as the World War II visionary leaders laid the groundwork for years of prosperity and growth, built on international economic cooperation, this crisis too could be turned into an opportunity by global leaders of this era.

“The world's leading economies can come together and lay the foundations not just for a sustainable economic recovery, but also for a genuinely new era of international economic partnership in which all countries have a part to play and all will see the benefits,” said officials accompanying Manmohan Singh on his three-day trip to the British capital. The G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, the US and the EU.

In his address at the summit, the Prime Minister is likely to voice concerns over growing protectionism of rich nations and seek free flow of credit to the developing world to help it overcome the economic crisis, which essentially originated from the developed world.

According to foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, there was a growing concern that non-trade barriers were being raised in the form of preferences for domestic companies for government procurement and bars on the movement of professionals. “In all these, we have seen a clear rise in protectionism.

All agree that protectionism will deepen the depression. The question is how this can be achieved and this is where G20 will prove to be useful.”

Besides protectionism, other areas in which India would like to see some progress were: reform of international financial system; augmentation of the ability of international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and regional development banks to deal with the kind of crisis being witnessed; reallocation of quotas available as soft loans and development aid to poor and developing countries; and commitment that flow of credit to poor and developing countries would not be stopped because of interventions by the governments in developed world.

Apart from attending the G-20 summit, Manmohan Singh will have bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown tomorrow and President Obama on Thursday. There could also be ‘pull-aside’ meetings with other world leaders.

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