1. I am so relieved. They met, they agreed, they came out with a communique. It was not by any stretch of the imagination a colossal failure - no matter how much people may have unrealistically expected one single plan to be developed in one afternoon for 7 different countries with different cultures, legislative systems, political systems, financial systems and economic systems.
2. I am impressed. I've read these types of communiques and I've participated in the drafting of communiques. It is extremely difficult to developing wording that satisfies different countries. I have to agree with Secretary Paulson. This is different. This is stronger than normal (although some still think it is vague). It's to the point.
3. I am overjoyed beyond words. They have included almost all of the key aspects of concern. The tone is urgent and decisive. Secretary Paulson specifically recognized the overriding importance of the necessity to build confidence. And importantly, he articulated that had they NOT recognized a problem or been unwilling to coordinate, that WOULD be REAL reason to lack confidence.
4. I am pleasantly surprised. I must admit that as one of his harshest critics, I believe that Secretary Paulson had his finest day to date. Yes, this type of action is late but he was unambiguous - what is being done now with global coordination is the right thing, and he and rest of the G7 are committed to it. He was clear, and I must admit more optimistic and positive in demeanor than he has been previously. Most importantly, he very effectively made the very important point that there is no way all countries can agree on the same "plan", but they can and they have agreed on the same principles and priorities. That shows respect for sovereignty. This will help the coordination immensely.
So let me turn to the G20:
From the G20 website. "The G-20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world."
Yes, we the developing countries have literally cried tears and blood for all time that the financial architecture was not fair, was not constructive and was punitive for those of us who were not developed. Those of us who have managed to reach "emerging-markets" status have struggled. And frankly had it not been for international cooperation with our fellow nations, we would never advance.
Now, Jamaica is not one of the countries of the G20, but we are members with a few of you in the G77 and China. Jamaica has held the Chair, and I myself have had the privelege to speak on issues related to finance and development for the G77 and China at the United Nations.
So if I may:
- This is a golden opportunity that respectfully, the world - especially the developing and emerging world, cannot literally afford to squander. Risk-aversion is at an all time high. Cost of credit will increase. And global depression poses survival risks for weaker economies highly dependent on imports. Please resist the urge to gloat or complain about who caused this mess. There is just no time right now.
- Use the time to focus on solutions. Necessity has been the mother of invention for us. The emerging markets and the developing world have an incredible insight into the worst case scenario that the developed world now dreads. Many of us have lived it. Now is the time to use this opportunity to gain a greater voice, because quite frankly we have earned it. We have valuable and credible contributions to make to resolving this global crisis. Furthermore, we have the populations that have to buy their goods and services. So let us put our real issues on the table. One that comes readily to mind is the reform of ratings agencies which impacts the cost and availability of credit, and attractiveness as an investment location (which is manifested either in investors staying away, or withdrawing - both of which result in destabilizing economies and markets). Another issue is the terms and conditions of lending from the multilaterals, especially the IMF upon which many in the developing world may have to depend for financing as a result of this global financial and economic crisis. The record with structural adjustment is clear - it is not an overwhelming success. You know, let me go back to a little Bob Marley 101. Bob was a global phenomenon. His music is timeless and his reach unparalleled. The world loved him, his music and his message. If you watched his concerts you would see sold out venues of people around the world - different nationalities, cultures, races, genders etc - singing every word of his songs which amazingly were not even in English,. but largey patois (Jamaican vernacular and broken English). Tonight, the one that comes to mind is "No More Trouble". A few lyrics for you: "We don't need no more trouble..."It's pretty ironic that it's "Troubled Assets" that have caused all this mess. So truly, we DO NOT NEED any more "trouble". So since the world seems ready - finally - to redo the rules, let us all be realistic about what will work for a more equitable and sustainable structure.
- Please remember the less developed in the fashioning of this new global financial world order. If we never had strength in numbers, many of us would not have graduated from less developed, to developing, to emerging status. That same Bob Marley song "No More Trouble" has another of my favourite lines: "If you are up, look down from above. Help the weak if you are strong now". There is a real obligation to speak for those who are weaker.