G20 faces 'more work' on imbalances: British PM
British Prime Minister David Cameron accepted Thursday that the G20 was not in a "heroic phase" and that it needed to do "a lot more work" to reach agreement on global economic imbalances.
Cameron also stressed the importance of breaking down what he called "a wall of money in the East (and) a wall of debt in the West" and spoke out against protectionism.
Cameron and other G20 leaders opened a two-day summit in Seoul Thursday facing deep divisions on trade imbalances between the United States on one side and exporters such as China and Germany on the other.
He spoke to leaders including United States President Barack Obama, Brazil's new president-elect Dilma Rousseff, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Canadian premier Stephen Harper and EU President Herman Van Rompuy at the summit's opening dinner.
Cameron told a separate business summit just before the main event that the G20's meeting was "vital".
"I am not saying we are going to solve each and every one of these problems, I am not saying that the G20 is in its heroic phase as it was during the 2008 crisis, but I would challenge those who say that the G20 is losing its relevance," he added.
When asked earlier about efforts to get a deal on trade imbalances, Cameron sounded a cautious note.
"Whether we'll go the whole way, which I hope we will, to have a better approach to dealing with this imbalance -- that's the big test, I accept, and there's still a lot more work to be done there," he told the BBC.
Cameron also emphasised the importance of fighting protectionism, saying the G20 was about stopping any restriction to trade "in its tracks".
"We're going to fight trade barriers, we're going to fight beggar-my-neighbour policies," he told the business summit.
"We're going to fight currency wars. We're going to fight competitive devaluations. We're going to show that this world, these politicians, these leaders, have learned the lessons of the 1930s.
"We're going to keep the system open rather than see it progressively close."
The British premier held bilateral meetings with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Thursday, as well as attending Remembrance Day events linked to the Korean War.
He notably announced that he was accepting Medvedev's invitation to make his first visit as prime minister to Russia next year, after years of frosty relations between London and Moscow.
But despite his busy schedule, Cameron joked that he had come to the G20 summit to escape the pressures of a young family after his wife gave birth to their fourth child in August.
"Everyone else has come to Korea for a summit or a business meeting. I've come just for a good night's sleep," he said.
© 2010 AFP