Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Osborne claims consensus among G7

Lew Jacob, US Treasury Secretary, with Chancellor George Osborne as they take part in a meeting for the G7 finance ministers

There is an "improved outlook" for the world economy but it remains fragile, George Osborne said after hosting "successful and constructive" talks with G7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs.

The Chancellor said there was more agreement between the rich nations making up the group on how to nurture the recovery than was often suggested - citing areas such as tackling tax avoidance and ensuring banks are no longer "too big to fail".

He declined, though, to give any details of the talks, which were held on an informal basis in a country hotel in Buckinghamshire.

He said he recognised that the larger G20 group - which includes emerging economic powers such as China, India and Brazil - was now the "primary economic forum for setting the global rules of the game".

But he insisted the G7 nations - the US, Germany, Japan, the UK, Italy, France and Canada - still wielded "major economic firepower" as they represented about half the global economy between them.

Speaking alongside Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King at the close of the two-day gathering, Mr Osborne said: "We have had a successful and constructive meeting.

"We are, of course, meeting at a time when financial market sentiment has improved and there are signs that this is feeding through to an improved outlook in some of our economies. However, we all agreed that growth prospects remain uneven and we can't take the recovery for granted.

"So, we focused our discussions on the necessary actions we as advanced economies, indeed economies which account for half of the entire world economy, can take to nurture the global recovery and ensure it is sustainable and lasting."

While there were "still many challenges", he said, "this meeting confirmed that there are more areas of agreement between us on fiscal policy than is commonly assumed".

Shadow treasury minister Catherine McKinnell said: "It's disappointing that this G7 meeting has failed to set out any concrete steps to promote economic growth or tackle tax avoidance. George Osborne should reflect on why Britain is experiencing the slowest economic recovery of any G7 country other than Italy. With Britain's economy flatlining and living standards falling, it's no wonder even the IMF is saying the Chancellor's failing policies need to change."

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