What do you need to know about the G20 treasurers meeting? A SmartCompany Q&A

What do you need to know about the G20 treasurers meeting? A SmartCompany Q&A

It is less than two months until the leaders of the G20 nations will convene in Brisbane.

It’s the ninth meeting of some of the most powerful leaders in the world but we already have some idea of the topics on the discussion table, thanks to the meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Cairns last weekend.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Sunday significant progress was made during the two day event and the outcome would be “millions of new jobs”.

“The world economy is gaining some momentum, though it is uneven and risks remain. We must avoid being complacent,” said Hockey.

“The G20 recognises that many of the decisions and actions to get the world economy moving are difficult. But we are determined to lift growth and countries are willing to use all our macroeconomic levers – monetary, fiscal and structural policies – to meet this challenge.”

So what did these powerful economic leaders talk about and did they manage to nut out any deals? It’s time for a SmartCompany Q&A.

What was decided on the weekend?

Global growth was one of the big ticket items discussed on the weekend and Hockey said the countries participating in the forum have approved a suite of measures – 1000 in total – which boost the global economy by 1.8%.

The benefit from the measures, which will be designed to promote investment and competition as well as enhance trade and employment, are expected to be felt by 2018. Hockey said around 80% of the measures are new policies.

So they got what they wanted?

Not quite.

The same group met in Sydney earlier this year and declared that 2% global growth above the trajectory of policies already in place at last year’s G20 meeting was their ultimate goal, so what was endorsed over the weekend was close to the mark.

“This result means we are 90% of the way to meeting the 2% growth ambition we set at our Sydney meeting,” said Hockey.

“We are all committed to step up, and deliver that growth target to the Brisbane Leaders’ Summit in November.”

They were in Cairns for two days – what else did they talk about?

Cracking down on global tax cheats was also high on the weekend’s agenda, with Hockey reporting the group is “halfway in delivering the two-year 15-point Base Erosion and Profit Sharing Action Plan, designed to ensure international tax rules keep up with advances in changing business models”.

Investment in infrastructure also received a spot on the bill, with the group agreeing upon a Global Infrastructure Initiative, which involves each member country committing to spending more on infrastructure. For Australia’s part, this spending will come from the government’s asset recycling fund and the funds it has already set aside for Melbourne’s East-West Link.

Hockey has also kept alive the prospect of a “patent box” for Australian technology investors, despite the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development slamming the potential introduction of the tax break on Saturday.

According to Fairfax, Hockey said his support for the tax break, which operates in Britain and the Netherlands, would depend on how it was structured.

Were there any surprises?

One of the big takeaways from the weekend’s summit was a push from some foreign leaders to make a move on industrial relations reform.

The chair of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said reform to industrial relations among the G20 countries is an “urgent challenge” for the world’s largest economies and more can be done.

“We believe that more focus in general on job-market reforms, and on more opportunities delivered by the job markets, will actually help us with the double objective of both growth and jobs,” she said.

According to The Australian, the Australian government is on board and is considering asking the Productivity Commission to look more closely at workplace reform as part of its wider competitiveness agenda.

At the end of the day, what does that mean for me?

Any growth in the global economy is good for small business, says Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia.

“There are some good outcomes coming through,” Strong told SmartCompany.

“And I think there is a good focus on small business. I think [the G20] get that any economy needs small business.”

But Strong says the challenge now is for the Australian government to take their global positions and apply them to their own backyard.

“What I want them to do is apply those beliefs to our own economy,” he says.


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