G20 finance ministers turn to infra for growth

Group of 20 finance officials made private investment in infrastructure a key component of their plan to increase global GDP by more than 2 percent.

Finance ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies have pledged to remove barriers to private investment in infrastructure during a summit meeting in Sydney, Australia, with the aim of adding $2 trillion to the global economy over the next five years.

The G20 leaders, including finance ministers and central bank governors, acknowledged improvements in the global economy but also warned against complacency given that there are still weaknesses to be overcome, such as lower than hoped-for growth rates and weak demand in some areas.

“We are committed to creating a climate that facilitates higher investment, particularly in infrastructure and small and medium enterprises,” the G20 said in the final communiqué released upon conclusion of the summit, adding that doing so is ‘crucial’ for the global economy’s transition to stronger growth in the short and medium term.

“We will undertake reforms to remove constraints to private investment by establishing sound and predictable policy and regulatory frameworks and emphasising the role of market incentives and disciplines,” the G20 said.

Each country member of the G20 is to draft a comprehensive growth strategy to be presented at the Brisbane Leaders Summit in November.

In the interim, the G20 is also asking the World Bank Group for its input by compiling a report that will outline efforts to optimise balance sheets in order to enhance lending capacity, including for infrastructure investment. The report will be presented at an upcoming meeting of finance officials in April.

The recent meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors was the first to be held in Australia, which assumed the G20 rotating presidency on December 1, 2013.

G20 members represent around 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, over 75 per cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.

The members of the G20 are: Argentina; Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; France; Germany; India; Indonesia; Italy; Japan; Republic of Korea; Mexico; Russia; Saudi Arabia; South Africa; Turkey; the UK; the US and the European Union.