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US-Präsident Obama, Australiens Premier Abbott, Japans Regierungschef Abe beim G-20 Gipfel
Image: Reuters

G20 leaders aim to boost economy

November 16, 2014

The G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, has ended with a final communiqué. Russian President Putin left the meeting early amid widespread condemnation of his country's alleged role in the Ukraine crisis.


Leaders of the world's top economies on Sunday ended a summit in the eastern Australian city of Brisbane after two days of talks overshadowed by concerns about the conflict in Ukraine.

In a final communiqué, the G20 leaders said their top priority was raising living standards and creating jobs worldwide through growth.

In pursuit of this goal, participants at the summit finalized a plan to boost the the global econony that was outlined by finance ministers earlier this year. The plan details 800 new measures that would be implemented in member countries in a bid to lift growth by 2.1 percentage points above current predictions by 2018.

The measures include steps to increase investment, improve trade and infrastructure, and establish a fair international tax system.

Among other things, a coordinating body is to be set up in Sydney, Australia that will work with governments, companies and development banks to help realize the goal of increased investment in infrastructure, particularly in developing countries.

'More jobs for women'

The communiqué also stated that the G20 nations aim to break down barriers preventing women from joining the workforce in a bid to meet a goal of having 100 million more women in employment by 2025.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who hosted the meeting, said increased participation by women could boost economic growth by "billions if not trillions."

The International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation in Europe is to supervise the implementation of the measures over the next five years.

Look-in for climate change

Although economic matters took pride of place on the agenda, leaders discussed a number of other issues on the sidelines of the conference.

Among them was climate change, even though Australia attempted to push the topic aside, with Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey saying that the United Nations, and not the G20, was the proper forum for discussion of the problem.

Australia has recently abolished a carbon emissions tax, drawing criticism from climate activists.

"We support strong and effective action to address climate change," the final communiqué said.

The US and Japan announced contributions totalling $4.5 billion (35.9 billion euros) to the UN Green Climate Fund, which has been set up to help developing nations cope with the problems posed by a changing climate.

Putin under pressure

Above all, however, the conflict in Ukraine, in which pro-Russian separatists have been waging an insurgency against government forces since April, dominated much of the discussion at the summit, with Russian President Vladimir Putin coming under great pressure because of his country's alleged role in the crisis.

Kyiv and many Western countries accuse Moscow of fomenting and supporting the rebellion, something Russia denies.

Putin has also faced massive international condemnation for the annexation of Crimea, and in connection with the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in July, allegedly by pro-Russian rebels using Russian weaponry.

Less than cordial handshake

Perhaps the bluntest criticism came from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who before accepting a proffered handshake from the Russian president told him, "Well, I guess I'll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine."

Putin also held tough talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, with Cameron saying he had warned the Russian leader that Moscow could face more EU and US sanctions.

The Russian president was the first to leave the summit, departing before his G20 counterparts had unveiled their economic plan. He told a press conference in Brisbane that despite "differing viewpoints," the talks at the summit had been "complete, constructive and very helpful."

Turkey will now assume the rotating G20 chairmanship, followed by China in 2016.

tj/ (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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