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World Leaders Holding Emergency Financial Market Summit in Washington

  • Barry Wood

Leaders whose countries account for over 75 percent of global economic activity are meeting Saturday at Washington's National Building Museum. VOA's Barry Wood reports the five-hour Group of 20 summit is likely to agree on an action plan to bolster a slowing world economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this is the first time that key developing and advanced economies are meeting together at the world leader level. The Washington summit, she said, will adopt an action plan that demonstrates the international community's capacity to overcome a financial crisis.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the one-day meeting is making progress on financial market regulation and reforming the International Monetary Fund. As he entered the morning session of the meeting, U.S. President Bush said much work remains to be done.

"This crisis has not ended," he said. "There is some progress being made, but there is still a lot more work to be done. We had a good frank discussion over dinner last night and I look forward to the discussions today."

Analysts say this emergency summit marks a shift away from decades of dominance by North America, Europe and Japan in global economic decision-making. The Washington gathering includes the world's fastest growing economies - China and India, as well as South Africa, Saudi Arabia, three Latin American countries, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey. The so-called Group of 20 has existed for a decade at the finance and trade ministers level.

Eswar Prasad, economics professor at Cornell University, says the meeting elevates the stature of developing countries.

"Having these leaders stand together, I think, does convey a very powerful symbol that these leaders are ready to do something and throw what they can at the problem," said Prasad.

This emergency meeting was held at the urging of the French and British leaders. Some analysts say its importance is minimized by the absence of incoming U.S. President Barack Obama, who doesn't take office until late January. G-20 leaders say a followup session is likely to be held in the next five months.

The meeting is principally concerned with averting a deepening global slowdown through tax cuts and increased government spending to spur flagging consumer spending. No consensus is expected in Washington on the need for regulatory reforms as well as changes in the voting structure of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.