Asia-Pacific

G20: Reaction from around the world

This handout on November 12, 2010 shows EU President Herman Van Rompuy (2nd L), South Korea"s President Lee Myung-bak (3rd L), Lee"s wife Kim Yoon-ok (3rd R) andSpain"s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (2nd R) during a dinner of the G20 Summit
Image caption The G20 group comprises the world's 19 leading national economies, plus the European Union

G20 leaders have ended their summit in South Korea by agreeing to avoid the competitive devaluation of their currencies, but they did not go as far as to harden this commitment up.

They also agreed to develop indicators to tackle trade imbalances, to show when they need to be reduced.

However, the agreement fell short of any consensus on how to limit trade deficits, which the US had been pushing for at the talks.

Here is a round-up from BBC journalists of reaction around the world to the outcome of the summit.

Stephen Evans, Berlin

There has been no open crowing in Germany - just expressions of quiet satisfaction.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to Seoul with the prime aim of not coming away with some sort of commitment to rein in Germany's trade surplus, as Mr Obama had wanted.

Image caption Die Zeit newspaper describes the outcome as a "victory" for German Chancellor Angela Merkel

That she got. As the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, put it: "Merkel wins trade surplus duel with Obama at G20".

It goes on to say that Mrs Merkel won "a battle of wills with President Barack Obama. The cap on trade surpluses and deficits desired by the US will not be imposed at Seoul's G20 summit".

Die Zeit echoes the thought, describing the outcome as a "victory" for Mrs Merkel.

Mrs Merkel herself said: "We can still talk about imbalances in the world. What we can't do is limit a country's competitiveness to a specific number. We believe that would be counter-productive. And I think that everyone has now given up on this idea."

In other words, she has recognised American concerns - but not bowed to them.

There will be no swift, economically painful (and politically disastrous) curbs on exporters. In any case, it is hard to see what the interventionist mechanism for that might have been.

But the other way of reducing a surplus is to import more, so Germany - not keen to alienate the United States - may reflate its economy a little faster than it otherwise would have.

Shirong Chen, BBC China editor

The Chinese must have felt relieved, some would say overjoyed, at the conclusion.

Image caption China has faced mounting pressure recently over its currency

The division over currencies, especially the wider criticism of US central bank's QE2 (quantitative easing), has meant China has managed to fend off, at least for now, the overwhelming pressure on the Chinese yuan to appreciate, with the support of surplus countries like Germany.

Having "won over" the US dominance at the G20 summit, Beijing is striking a conciliatory tone. Its spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, says G20 leaders have made a solemn commitment to face up new risks and challenges in reviving the world economy.

The summit has reflected "the objective reality of the rising power of the emerging economies".

Chinese media say G20, as a forum, is shifting its focus from crisis management to long-term economic governance.

It is still too early to tell whether the Seoul summit marks a turning point in the balance of power between the China and the US.

Chinese coverage tends to highlight the risks in the excessive liquidity caused by "some international reserve currencies". They have got their work cut out for them, though, to re-structure the fast growing economy that, at the moment, relies heavily on exporting goods to the developed world. Instead they want to effectively boost domestic demand.

Paulo Cabral, Sao Paulo

Even though no concrete proposals were approved in Seoul, to deal with the "global currency" war, the Brazilian government seem happy that the issue was taken seriously during the meeting.

"At least now it's being discussed so we are now in (a) position of thinking of instruments to mitigate its impacts," said the Brazilian Finance Minister, Guido Mantega.

Back in September, Mr Mantega was the first heavyweight in international finance to use the expression "currency war" to refer to the economic imbalance in the world.

Image caption Brazil had welcomed talks on the issue of the "currency war"

Business people and analysts talking to Brazilian media after the results of the G20 meeting have said that they did not have, in any case, expectations of anything concrete coming out of the summit so the best possible scenario would have been reached.

Brazil was not able, however, to push through with its more radical proposals like the idea of replacing the dollar - as the basic trade and finance reference - for a basket of currencies that would also include the Brazilian Real.

But besides the currency war there were two decisions that were very well received by Brazilians.

One of them is G20 support for a reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give more say in the institution to big emerging countries like Brazil and China.

The group has also identified a "window of opportunity" for the conclusion of the WTO Doha Round in 2011 which goes hand in hand with Brazil interest in boosting multilateral trade discussions as opposed to bilateral agreements.

Mark Mardell, Washington

The rather disappointing, at least low key, outcome to the G20 adds to the sense of a president beleaguered and diminished.

The well respected Washington Post even suggests Obama failed to get a much-prized free trade deal with South Korea because of his party's "shellacking" in the mid term elections. This is almost certainly nonsense, but a sign of the times.

Image caption Mr Obama says there is "broad agreement" among G20 leaders on global economic policy

But it is true that a mere 18 months ago the president would probably have been handed any trade treaty he wanted just by flashing a smile. He is no longer the super star who leaves other world leaders star-struck, but another mortal with one eye on the polls.

Leaders of democracies can be quick to sympathise with each other about a tricky electorate, but Mr Obama's decrease in popularity at home is not matched by a robust admiration for his economic policy on the world stage.

It was only a few months ago at the G20 in Toronto that Mr Obama's failure was being unable to persuade other countries to join him in a new stimulus package.

Since then, other countries, most notably the UK are wielding the knife, busy balancing the books, cutting the deficit. In fact doing what the president's domestic opposition says he should do.

But there is some irony that the leader of the richest and most powerful country in the world finds himself rather isolated, just like his predecessor, if for utterly different reasons.