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Analysis: G20: Banging the British drum in East Asia

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 12, 2010


BBC By Nick Robinson

Seoul: We can’t say we weren’t warned. David Cameron had predicted that this was not going to be one of those summits that saw the G20 in a “heroic phase”.

He insists that while the summit may not have produced a “glistening headline”, it made good and steady progress and that we should treasure what the G20 does and understand that if it didn’t exist, something like it would have to be invented.

Britain helped secure a commitment to try again to get a world trade deal and the solution to the issue which dogged this summit – the so-called “global economic imbalances” between the old industrialised countries like Britain and America, which have spent and imported too much, and the newly developing economies like China which have saved and exported too much.

In the early hours of this morning, fractious negotiations between China, America and the hosts South Korea broke down in acrimony, according to a British source. The “summit sherpas” from the UK, France and Russia were called in, it’s claimed, to settle the dispute. They did so by calling on the International Monetary Fund to produce a study and for the G20 to discuss the issue all over again next year.

It may be that Downing Street wants to counter the impression that the prime minister has played a much more marginal role here than Gordon Brown did at the London summit last year. Privately, officials who have worked for both men say, though, that there are good reasons for that. Britain is not now chairing the G20, the world is no longer facing a crisis and the UK’s policy of deficit reduction means that Britain is no longer seen as a problem.

Mr Cameron ends his week in East Asia feeling that at the very least, he’s banged the drum for British trade in a part of the world which looks like creating wealth and jobs for a very long time to come.

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