Lifting growth and creating jobs on the G20 agenda

OPINION: As Australia prepares to welcome leaders of the world’s major economies to the G20 Summit, Australian High Commissioner to PNG Deborah Stokes says Papua New Guinea’s economic growth prospects and continued ability to attract investment are closely linked to the state of the global economy.

IN A few weeks, Australia will welcome leaders of the world's major economies to Brisbane for the G20 Summit. The centrepiece of Australia's agenda as G20 president has been a push to boost collective G20 economic growth by more than 2% above ‘business as usual' by 2018, which, if achieved, would deliver $2 trillion to global GDP and generate millions of additional jobs.

Genuine measures have been put forward by all G20 economies. With over 900 measures on the table, the IMF and OECD estimate that we are now about 90% of the way to meeting our collective ambition. A key theme running through these measures is unleashing the private sector to do what it does best - strengthening growth and generating jobs.

This will improve everyone's quality of life and is the best source of generating real, sustainable wealth for the world.

As a crucial part of lifting growth, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors have agreed on a Global Infrastructure Initiative to help drive quality infrastructure investment right across the G20 and beyond. This will accelerate growth, create jobs and lead to productivity gains.

This Initiative includes collective measures which will facilitate greater knowledge sharing, help to address key data gaps, implement voluntary G20 leading practices on promoting and prioritising quality investment, and create a consolidated database of infrastructure projects to help match potential investors with projects.

It also includes country specific measures included in individual national growth strategies to improve the general climate for investment and encourage private-sector participation.

A mechanism to implement specific elements of the Global Infrastructure Initiative will be announced at the leader's summit in Brisbane. Countries such as PNG could benefit when this mechanism is established.

Labour and employment ministers have recommended that G20 leaders adopt the goal of reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women in G20 countries by 25% by 2025.

This would bring more than 100 million new entrants into the labour force, significantly increasing global growth.

G20 members want to build the resilience of the global economy and ensure the circumstances that led to the global financial crisis are not repeated.

Finance ministers and central bank governors have made progress in strengthening financial institutions to foster global stability.

The focus of the financial regulation agenda will now shift towards implementation of reforms and ongoing monitoring to identify new risks.

The G20 is on track to deliver on its two-year work plan to address tax avoidance. This will help ensure the international tax system keeps pace with technology and improving business compliance so

governments receive the revenue needed to provide

services for their people. Companies should pay tax in the country where they earn a profit.

The finance ministers and central bank governors have also agreed a rapid implementation plan for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities to help to identify and catch tax evaders, with exchange to begin in 2017 or 2018.

This is substantial progress, but we face an increasingly difficult global economic situation that threatens to undermine our gains.

The International Monetary Fund has revised its global forecast for 2014 down again, and World Trade Organisation economists have also lowered their forecasts sharply. They now expect global trade volumes to grow by just 3.1% this year, down from the 4.7% they predicted earlier in the year.

The International Labour Organisation has advised that 2013 global employment is now estimated to be 62 million jobs below what it would have been, had the original trends in output and employment continued.

This challenge has only strengthened our resolve.

The G20 is the right body to steer the global economy back on the path to strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth.

With its membership covering over 85% of the world economy its actions reverberate in every corner of the globe. Achieving the G20's growth target is critical not only for the G20, but also to put the world's economy firmly back on track after the global financial crisis.

This will have direct benefits for PNG as its

economic growth prospects and continued ability to attract investment are closely linked to the state of the global economy.

We are striving to create an environment that is conducive to growth - because stronger economic growth is the key to addressing almost every global problem. This means actively removing impediments to private sector growth, enabling free trade, and lifting participation and employment - particularly of women and young people.

Australia is doing its part. We are repairing the national budget and shifting spending away from short-term consumption and towards growth-enhancing investment, including by recycling assets to invest into more productive infrastructure. We're lowering the costs of doing business, we are further opening our trade borders and we are taking a hard look at more competition reform. Involving the private sector and engaging the help of our citizens will be critical to the G20's success.

At the Brisbane Summit, we are committed to making a real change for the better. We do not seek growth for its own sake, but to help our citizens find new and better jobs, expand business in international markets and to build the infrastructure this century demands.

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