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G-7 Finance Ministers Pledge to Redouble Efforts for Economic Growth - 2004-04-24

Finance ministers from the world's major economies met Saturday in Washington, and pledged to redouble their efforts to speed world economic growth.

What is called the Group of Seven finance ministers meet regularly to set policy direction for the International Monetary Fund, in which they are the dominant shareholders. The group of seven includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.

Russia's finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, who attended a portion of the meeting, said Russia has no intention of following the OPEC cartel in cutting oil production.

Canada's finance minister, Paul Goodale, said there is concern about the potentially destabilizing global impact of the large U.S. budget deficit. But he is encouraged by assurances from U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, that the U.S. deficit will come down.

"He has repeated the United States determination to make progress in that regard," he said. "And he has a plan and a time frame to at least cut that deficit in half in the next number of years. That certainly would be helpful."

During two days of meetings, world finance ministers are also discussing debt problems of the poorest countries. The head of the African Development Bank, Omar Kabbaj, says the poorest countries need more debt relief. But he identifies one group of African countries that have been growing at five percent annual rates and reducing poverty.

"Examples of countries that are making such progress include Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal in West Africa, Uganda and Tanzania in East Africa, and Mozambique in Southern Africa," said Omar Kabbaj.

The IMF and World Bank meetings conclude on Sunday. On Saturday, a few hundred anti-globalization protesters marched near the meeting site.