News National Australia to assume chair of G20 group

Australia to assume chair of G20 group

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Australia’s role as host of the Group of 20 summit in 2014 will be vital to restoring the credibility of the global forum for major industrialised nations, an expert says.

Australia will assume the chairmanship of the G20 on December 1, giving it the key role in setting the agenda and managing the summit to be held in Brisbane in November 2014.

The G20 is the top global forum for examining the world’s economic and financial challenges, with member countries representing 85 per cent of world GDP and 80 per cent of global trade.

Mike Callaghan, the director of the G20 Studies Centre at the Lowy Institute, said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s role will be crucial to the summit’s success or failure.

“The prime minister will have to be directly involved in driving the agenda in 2014 if substantive outcomes are to be achieved in Brisbane and it is more than a talk shop,” Mr Callaghan told AAP on Friday.

The former adviser to treasurer Peter Costello said there was a perception that while the G20 was a useful forum “its best days are behind it”, having been a crucial group in dealing with the global financial crisis.

“For the Brisbane summit to be a success, Australia will need to improve the way the G20 works, define a focused agenda and directly engage leaders,” Mr Callaghan said.

He said there was always pressure on international forums to expand the agenda too widely, but the focus of the Brisbane event should be on lifting global growth.

Progress was needed on boosting infrastructure spending, shoring up multilateral trading systems and combating tax avoidance and profit shifting.

The first ministerial-level event leading up to the leaders’ summit will be the finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Sydney on February 21-23. Canberra will host a deputies-level meeting in January.

Cairns will host a second meeting of finance ministers and bank governors from September 20-21.

The Brisbane summit, from November 15-16, is expected to attract 4000 delegates and 3000 journalists.

Beyond the G20 nations, Spain, Myanmar, the chair of the African Union as well as another African country and an yet-to-be-named Asian country will be invited to attend the summit.

The 2015 summit host Turkey and 2013 host Russia will join Australia on what is known as the G20 “troika” from December 1.