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G20 more than a talkfest


G20 more than a talkfest

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BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Australia’s Prime Minister vowed that world leaders would deliver on an initiative to add $2 trillion to global GDP, promising freer trade and more investment in infrastructure as heads of the 20 largest economies began cementing plans to drag sagging growth out of the doldrums.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has repeatedly promised this year’s Group of 20 gathering in the Australian city of Brisbane would be more than a talkfest, said the growth plans would add millions of jobs and boost global GDP by “more than two per cent” above expected levels over the next five years.

“That is millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in extra production,” Abbott said as he officially opened the two-day G-20 conference. “Yes, we want freer trade and we will deliver it. Yes, we need more infrastructure and we will build it.

“This is our message to the world: that governments can deliver, that governments can agree that the world can be better, that there can be higher jobs, higher growth and more jobs,” he added.

G-20 nations, which represent 85 per cent of the global economy, are under pressure to take definitive action at this year’s summit, rather than simply producing a set of vague, unmeasurable goals. The International Monetary Fund has warned about a “new mediocre” for the world economy, putting renewed focus on the G-20’s growth initiative.

Each country is expected to present a comprehensive plan at the summit on how they will achieve their contribution toward the $2 trillion goal, but whether the communique that will be issued at the conclusion of the gathering on Sunday will reveal any of those details is unclear. World GDP this year is about $77 trillion.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said the group’s growth strategies include 1 000 measures that will lift infrastructure investment, increase trade and competition, cut red tape and increase employment.

“While we still face economic challenges in many parts of the world, I’m optimistic our two per cent commitment will deliver the growth the world needs,” Hockey said.

But rights groups such as The Civil Society 20 group, or C20, want assurances that the poor will benefit the most from the plans, estimating that the additional growth could lift one billion people out of poverty if it was poured into the poorest 20 per cent of G-20 households.

Before intensive talks could begin, however, leaders took time to enjoy a traditional Aussie barbecue at the state Parliament House, feasting on king prawns, oysters, lamb and pavlova, a popular meringue dessert generally served with fruit and whipped cream.