British PM defends G20 trade guidelines
British Prime Minister David Cameron Friday defended the G20's agreement to craft guidelines on assessing economic imbalances, admitting: "This was never going to be solved overnight."
His comments came in a press conference after the Group of 20 emerging and advanced economies agreed on steps including "indicative guidelines" to reorient trade between surplus and deficit nations.
That stopped far short of a US push for bolder action on rebalancing trade between deficit countries and export powerhouses such as China.
"This was never going to be solved overnight but the key thing is this -- it is being discussed in a proper multilateral way without resort to tit-for-tat measures and selfish policies," Cameron said.
He admitted there had been "robust conversations" between the United States and China but stressed there was eventually "relatively good-natured agreement".
Cameron also defended the system of imposing guidelines despite some criticisms that they should have been more binding.
"It puts pressure on the political leaders to think, 'Is what I'm about to do purely in my own short-term interest or in the long-term interest of trying to maximise global growth?'" he said.
He hailed the G20's pledge to step up efforts to secure a deal on the Doha round of trade talks, saying: "Increasing trade is the biggest boost and the biggest stimulus we can give to the world economy."
His finance minister George Osborne had earlier told reporters that 2011 was a "critical year of opportunity" for the long-stalled negotiations.
"I think there is a growing recognition that this is there as a real opportunity," Osborne said.
"I think there is also a recognition that 2011 is a significant window of opportunity and I just see the barriers in the path gradually falling away."
© 2010 AFP