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  • Think 20

International experts' community anticipates major initiatives from Russia's G20 presidency

At the roundtable discussion entitled "G20's Answers to the Global Challenges" within the Gaidar Forum 2013, Sergei Drobyshevsky, head of the G20 Expert Council delivered on the ideas put forward by the expert community with regard to Russia's G20 presidency.

Think 20, which was introduced to bring together research centers and experts, is the youngest outreach format of the G20 process, Drobyshevsky noted. Its first meeting was held last year, and Russia has given an extra impetus to Think 20. While the first Think 20 meeting was held amidst Mexico's presidency in 2012 and to a great extent was experts' reflection upon the previously achieved results, the Russian presidency practically started with the Think 20 meeting. In this vein, experts' opinions were utilized to frame the agenda of the Russian Presidency and to determine its core ideas and approaches.

At the Think 20 Meeting held in Moscow in December 2012, experts from all around the G20 put forward a set of the most important ideas, which should be the focus of the G20 for Russia's presidency term.

One of the main topics discussed in the context of what the G20 could offer to restore global macroeconomic stability was the issue of long-term fiscal sustainability and sovereign debt management. Experts argued that the primary focus should be not so much on developing some new sustainability criteria, notwithstanding the urgency of the issue and the fact that the existing systems are far from perfect. The recent crisis has demonstrated that the existing debt sustainability criteria are not always applicable to the current situation. What is important is the implementation of these criteria, compliance with them, and determining how the international economic community, including the G20 as the most influential economic club, can control and enforce them.

The second major issue covered at the Think 20 Meeting referred to trade policy. As proposed by experts, a new discussion platform could be launched for analyzing international trade and its rules, unlike how it is being carried out in the WTO. Within this framework, the G20 could add value in form of new ideas without interfering into the WTO's mandate. This could deal, for instance, with such issues as trade as an element of global value production chains, since nowadays trade is not just an exchange of goods between countries, but an important global production process, where trading relations themselves are only a part of production process. This idea should be taken into account when discussing the ways that trade policy should be conducted and what the optimum trade is, Sergei Drobyshevsky claimed.

Finally, the third issue referred to what should be considered important for the global financial system in terms of investment and its role in the resumption of economic growth. "Apparently, we are dealing with an international financial architecture that has changed significantly," Mr. Drobyshevsky said.

"Before the crisis of 2008-2009, the system of financial resources and investment flows was quite clear in a sense that the developed countries were reflected upon as the main source of investment financing for the developing countries. Nowadays, on the other hand, the situation is quite opposite. The fast-moving emerging economies possess significant financial resources, whereas most economically developed countries find themselves in a state of substantially decreased financial capabilities. In this context, the G20 should focus on finding solutions to adjust the conventional views on investment flows and their impact on the growth of various economic centers of the world."

Summing up, Sergei Drobyshevsky pointed out that the expert community has positive expectations of Russia's G20 presidency. "International experts' community anticipates that Russia, being a relatively new member of the G20 and an independent president of the club, could help attain breakthrough decisions and launch major initiatives during its presidency tenure that will be followed up in the coming years," Mr. Drobyshevsky concluded.