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[Editorial] G20 Summit Should Expedite Nat’l Development

[Editorial] G20 Summit Should Expedite Nat’l Development

Posted September. 28, 2009 08:26,   


Korea will be the first Asian country to host the Group of 20 summit in November next year and the fourth to do so among G20 member states after the U.S. (twice), Britain and Canada. Korea’s participation in the summit in and of itself attests to the nation’s great strides in the international community. Seoul’s successful bid to host the event is also a great achievement in Korean diplomacy. The country has also secured a monumental opportunity to raise its international profile.

President Lee Myung-bak expressed his will to host the G20 summit soon after his return from the first event in Washington in November last year. A government task force was formed to bid for the hosting rights immediately. His “personal network of G20 leaders” added momentum to Korea’s bid, and government officials including former Finance Minister Sakong Il, chairman of the G20 planning and coordination committee, visited major member countries to propagate Korea’s successful bid.

The Group of Eight economies had previously dominated the global economy but failed to effectively tackle all pending global issues. The G20 was formed at a time when the world required new leadership in the wake of global challenges, including climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. The G20 accounts for 85 percent of global production, so the G8 will likely see its role in the global agenda gradually decline. G20 leaders in Pittsburgh last week agreed to make the G20 the world’s leading forum, and so chances are high the G20 will replace the G8 in the economic area.

The G20 summit in Korea will likely cover key agenda items such as a strategy to overcome the economic crisis, financial regulations, and reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. If Korea can play a leading role in setting the agenda and generating solutions as the host country in successfully hosting next year’s event, it can raise its global profile as a key member of the “post-G8” alliance.

Advanced and emerging economies and developing nations have shown differing views on easing the disparity in the global economy and overcoming the financial crisis. Korea is poised to join the league of advanced economies, and has ample experience as a successful developing country and emerging market. As such, the country is indeed qualified to play the role of a bridge between developed and developing economies.

Korea must use the G20 summit as an opportunity to increase its national image to the level of advanced countries across the spectrum, encompassing politics, economy and society. The country was ranked 19th this year in national competitiveness by the World Economic Forum. Notably, the country is rock bottom in labor competitiveness, including labor-management cooperation, and lags behind financial market sophistication and soundness of banks, a shameful level for a country that will host the G20 summit.

Korea needs notable achievements recognized by both the Korean public and the world in advancing the nation’s political culture, including the restoration of the democratic representation system by the time of the next G20 summit. Otherwise, Korea could face disgrace as an “underdeveloped democracy” that hosts the G20 summit.