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Obama: G20 Achieved Hard-Won Consensus


President Barack Obama speaks during his news conference at the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, 12 Nov 2010

President Barack Obama speaks during his news conference at the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, 12 Nov 2010

President Barack Obama says he and other leaders of the G20 meeting in Seoul reached broad agreement on actions to continue moving the world toward sustained and balanced growth. Mr. Obama spoke as G20 leaders issued their Seoul Action Plan, which they say will help further strengthen the global economy.

President Obama spoke in a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 summit, as leaders issued a communiqué endorsing gradual changes in currency values.

Leaders and aides worked through Friday to come up with compromise language against the backdrop of the U.S. dispute with China over Beijing's currency policies.

Without mentioning China by name, G20 members say they should refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies, and move toward more market-determined exchange rate systems.



President Obama gave his interpretation of what the final statement says about the issue.

"Letting currencies reflect market fundamentals, allowing your currency to move up and down depending on the role you are playing in the international trading system, is the best way to ensure that everybody benefits from trade rather than just some," he said.

Mr. Obama says he believes China will continue to make progress on the currency issue, adding he looks forward to following up when President Hu visits Washington in January.

The G20 says advanced economies, including those with surpluses, should be vigilant against excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates, and warn against uncoordinated policy actions.

The Seoul statement sets no numerical targets for current account deficits and surpluses, but endorses guidelines to be used to address large imbalances. The G20 also approved a package of IMF reforms to reflect shifts in power to emerging economies.

Referring to media coverage describing major problems at the summit, President Obama said that in fact, G20 leaders managed to achieve real progress.

"Sometimes I think naturally there is an instinct to focus on the disagreements because otherwise these summits might not be very exciting, it's just a bunch of world leaders sitting around intervening, so there is a search for drama," he said. "What is remarkable is that in each of these successive summits, we have actually made real progress."

Mr. Obama said the U.S. Federal Reserve decision to pump $600 billion into the U.S. economy was not central to discussions among G20 leaders, which he said focused on taking concrete steps on re-balancing the world economy.

President Obama left Seoul without having achieved a final agreement with South Korea on a free trade agreement concluded in 2007 under his predecessor George W. Bush. He said he wants to see the issue resolved in coming weeks, but only an agreement that will benefit both countries.

The president and many other G20 leaders now begin two days of consultations at the Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama, Japan, an informal grouping set up more than two decades ago to bring down trade barriers and enhance economic coordination across the Pacific.


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