12 Nov 2010

Tensions high at G20 summit as key nations squabble

6:38 pm on 12 November 2010

Talks between leaders of the G20 group of major economies entered their second day in Seoul on Friday, with key nations locked in fractious talks.

Tensions are high between some delegations over how to correct distortions in currency and trade.

Some fear the conflict - primarily between the United States and China - may threaten global growth.

However, South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak said "big progress" had been achieved during overnight meetings of negotiators, although he provided no further details.

On Friday, China said it would switch to an economic growth model driven by consumption and make it a priority to boost domestic demand.

President Hu Jintao delivered thinly veiled criticism of the United States, calling on countries that issue reserve currencies to adopt responsible policies and maintain relatively stable exchange rates, Reuters reports.

Chinese officials have repeatedly voiced dissatisfaction with the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy in the run-up to the Seoul summit.

The US has faced criticism from several countries for pumping another $US600 billion into its economy to try to revive growth through a second round of so-called quantitative easing, the BBC reports.

And there are also divisions about China's currency, the yuan, which Washington says is artificially weak and gives Chinese exporters an unfair advantage as well as leading to Beijing amassing huge foreign reserves.

However, Chinese officials argued that Beijing had an "unswerving" commitment to reform its currency regime, but that global economic stability was needed to achieve it.

"If you're sick yourself, don't ask others to take medicine," commerce ministry spokesperson Yu Jianhua said.

Ahead of the meeting, US President Barack Obama urged leaders to work together for global economic recovery.

He also defended America's policy of pumping $US600 billion into the economy, saying it was needed to boost growth rates.