[Viewpoint] Our G-20 triumphWe were bombarded with a surprise artillery attack from North Korea before we had time to ruminate on the accomplishment and meaning of the monumental Group of 20 Summit in Seoul. This may have been a factor in the North’s plan to attack a populated area for the first time. We must quickly come up with a contingency plan to stop further military provocations from North Korea as well as a retaliatory defense strategy.
But at the same time we should not fail to capitalize on the gains and lessons from the G-20. The success of the G-20 Summit in Seoul is meaningful not only for our country, or the Asian region, but for other emerging and underdeveloped economies as well as the global community.
From the broader global perspective, the G-20 cemented its status as the top executive forum on international finance and financial cooperation. Many had expected the wealthy group members to declare conflicts of interest and doubted any substantial achievements when the hastily organized forum to discuss and combat the 2008 financial crisis assembled in Seoul in November.
Despite precurtain concerns and alarm over the currency crisis and trade imbalances, the members agreed on a time frame and guidelines to evaluate differences in current-account balances to rebalance the global economy.
They also agreed on realigning quotas, or voting powers, of the International Monetary Fund and on a sweeping financial regulatory reform dubbed the Basel III code, which was beyond expectations.
Our initiative on development programs for underdeveloped and poor economies, and the idea of establishing a global financial safety net, also was accepted. The G-20 discovered and assumed a monumental role during a noncrisis period.
The Seoul G-20 conference held a special meaning for Asia and emerging economies. Korea’s hosting of a G-20 Summit, the first time for a non-G-7 country, gave it a leadership role in a new kind of international order. Its performance should inspire other Asian and other emerging nations to be more assertive in taking on leadership in global affairs.
On a more personal level, we found a new role and earned enhanced confidence from the event. Our economy has accomplished a rags-to-riches miracle and helped lead the pack of the emerging economies. But we have remained on the sidelines in terms of setting the rules and guiding the direction of the global economy.
The Seoul meeting, which allowed us to stand center stage at a world event, has served as a diplomatic and economic turning point. Together with the details of the Seoul declaration, the country earned praise in every aspect: for the ceremonial events, security and marketing. Many visitors commented on being impressed by the public civility, reception and volunteer workers at the summit.
The praise and accomplishments are too significant to be tossed aside as a one-time thing. We should continue to exercise leadership as an executive member of the G-20 to assure the success of the next meeting in Paris, while making sure that each member remains committed to its respective action plans annexed to the Seoul Consensus.
We also have to step up endeavors to share our experience in modernization and development with other emerging and underdeveloped economies to set a role model.
In the private sector, companies should fully capitalize on the marketing momentum of spotlighting the country’s newfound identity from the G-20 event. They must accelerate design development and a new marketing strategy to boost sales abroad.
And as a community member, we must persist with the civility and tolerance manifested during the event.
*The writer was chairman of the presidential organizing committee of the G-20 Summit.
By Sakong Il