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The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:15 pm, April 14, 2014
World must stay vigilant against fallout over turmoil in Ukraine
G20共同声明 ウクライナ支援で協調したが

The world’s major economies have managed to take concerted steps in beefing up support to Ukraine, which is on the verge of a financial crisis―at least for the time being.

But tensions over the situation in Ukraine have increased with no clear path in sight for resolving confrontations between Russia and the United States and European nations. The world must stay vigilant against any fallout on the world economy that the turmoil in Ukraine could incite.

The meeting in Washington of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 advanced nations and emerging economies closed on Saturday after issuing a joint statement.

It was the first international conference that Japan, the United States and European nations officially participated in together with Russia since Western nations strengthened sanctions against Moscow in an angry response to its annexation of the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

In a sign of continued tension, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned of additional U.S. sanctions against Russia, which was repudiated by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, during their bilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting.

Despite the rift, the joint statement stated, “We are monitoring the economic situation in Ukraine, mindful of any risks to economic and financial stability.”

With financial support from Russia frozen, Ukraine is weighed down by a huge sovereign debt and teeters on the verge of default.

If Ukraine’s bankruptcy becomes a reality, financial markets around the world will suffer a serious blow, possibly adversely affecting the global economy. Apparently, this alarm loudly resonated among all G-20 members.

IMF response

The International Monetary Fund, Japan, the United States and European nations have announced financial support totaling $27 billion (\2.7 trillion) over the next two years, which naturally prompted the G-20 to hail the IMF’s response in its joint statement. It is necessary for the IMF to provide loans as soon as possible.

Indications were that Russia’s predicament was behind the G-20 members taking joint steps in providing support to Ukraine. Russia would incur a massive loss should credit it provided to Ukraine become unrecoverable.

With its economy continuing to slow down, Russia apparently had no choice but to cooperate with the support program led by the United States and European nations if it wants to put priority on ensuring its economic stability. Russia should take its responsibility for causing the turmoil to heart.

Meanwhile, the joint statement said, “We welcome the prospects for global economic growth to strengthen in 2014 but remain vigilant in the face of important global risks and vulnerabilities.”

In their last meeting in February, the G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors agreed on a numerical target of lifting “our collective GDP [gross domestic product] by more than 2 percent above the trajectory implied by current policies over the coming five years.” At stake however is how they can meet the target. The joint statement appropriately stated the G-20 members will review their growth strategies by September.

In contrast to the U.S. economy, which is chugging along, Europe faces the rising threat of deflation. The Chinese economy is not free from worries, either.

The Japanese economy, meanwhile, has an uncertain path ahead now that the consumption tax rate was raised this month. The nation should incorporate regulatory reforms and corporate tax reduction in a new growth strategy to contribute to the growth of the global economy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 13, 2014)

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