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From Los Cabos to St Petersburg:
ensuring strong, sustainable, and balanced growth

By Stephen Harper, prime minister, Canada

Special feature: "Russia's G20 Summit: St Petersburg 2013," edited by John Kirton and Madeline Koch, with guest editor Marina Larionova
Published by Newsdesk Media Group and the G20 Research Group, 2013
For a downloadable electronic version, click here.

Five years since the onset of the global financial crisis, the global recovery continues to be weaker than recoveries from past recessions. As citizens of an open-market economy, Canadians have not been immune to the economic challenges experienced by other countries around the world.

Responding to these challenges, our government has focused its efforts on what matters most to Canadians – jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The results have been encouraging. Through our Economic Action Plan, the government has taken strong action that has resulted in Canada having the best economic performance and employment growth rates among the G7 since the beginning of the global economic downturn in 2008.

While Canada has experienced positive growth, we still face risks from an uncertain global economy. The global growth outlook has steadily weakened over the past year and many of our major trading partners, particularly the United States and Europe, are experiencing modest to no growth.

As part of our international efforts to address the weakness in the global economy, I will be participating in this year's G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia. Together, the G20 countries account for more than 85 per cent of the world economy and two-thirds of the world's population; the use of coordinated approaches to global financial and economic challenges is intended to foster international economic stability, growth, jobs and prosperity.

At the 2012 G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, leaders discussed the global economy and adopted strategies to foster economic growth. In support of these efforts, Canada played a leading role in developing the Los Cabos Growth and Jobs Action Plan. The action plan recognised that fiscal responsibility and economic growth go hand in hand, and stressed the importance of resisting protectionism and keeping markets open.
We hope that the G20 will maintain its focus on efforts to support strong, sustainable and balanced growth and job creation around the world. Although financial market conditions have improved in Europe and the crisis has become less acute, the eurozone has only recently exited its recession. Private sector demand is showing encouraging signs in both the United States and Japan, but several major emerging markets are slowing down.

For our part, in 2013 Canada once again provided leadership as co-chair of the Framework Working Group for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth. We hope to secure agreement on an ambitious St Petersburg Action Plan that will support growth in the near term, while promoting credible and realistic fiscal strategies in the medium term.

To further support economic stability, G20 countries all need to maintain momentum on financial sector reform by implementing their commitments in a timely and consistent manner. Canadian banks already meet the Basel III common equity tier 1 capital requirement, and our banking sector is considered the soundest in the world.

While it is clear that international trade and investment play an important role in promoting growth, much more should be done multilaterally to open markets and keep them open. For our part, Canada will continue to pursue an active trade agenda, including efforts to conclude a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, an ambitious Trans Pacific Partnership agreement and ambitious trade agreements with countries such as Japan and India. G20 countries must also agree to extend an existing commitment against new protectionist measures beyond its current expiry in 2014. These two measures contribute to the creation of new sources of economic growth.

The G20 agenda must also address other important areas. As corruption undermines economic growth, investment and social development, we hope the G20 will agree to promote the effective implementation of anti-corruption legislation, policies and measures. In particular, in St Petersburg, G20 countries will have an opportunity to agree to strengthen enforcement of bribery and solicitation legislation, as well as increased information sharing.

In addition to fostering growth in our own countries, the G20 can play a role in promoting the prosperity of low-income countries. Last year in Los Cabos, Canada partnered with several G20 members, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others to launch the market-based AgResults initiative, which uses small amounts of public sector money to leverage private sector research on food security challenges. The G20 will have other opportunities to implement market-based solutions to address development challenges in low-income countries.

However, all of these commitments taken at summits are only effective if implemented. Accountability has been a core component of Canada's approach to international engagement, including within both the G8 and G20 processes. A hallmark of Canada's 2010 G8 presidency was the Muskoka Accountability Report, which assessed G8 member actions against previous development-related commitments. Similarly, the G20's Accountability Assessment framework was established to monitor progress against past commitments and identify areas where further policy actions may be required. Accountability and concrete progress are essential to ensuring that the G20 is a credible and effective forum, capable of taking action to address pressing international economic issues.

At the height of the global financial crisis, G20 leaders demonstrated resolve to address global economic risks and promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth. Canada hopes that, in St Petersburg, G20 leaders once again work together and move forward on an ambitious set of commitments that will bring about growth and economic prosperity for years to come.

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