The fourth G20 Sherpas' Meeting was held in St.Petersburg on July 25-26. After the meeting Ksenia Yudaeva, Chief of the Presidential Experts' Directorate and the Russian G20 Sherpa, gave an interview to the Rossiya 24 television channel.
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Question: Ms. Yudaeva, welcome to the studio. What is the final agenda of the G20 Leaders' Summit to be held in St.Petersburg on September 5-6?
Ksenia Yudaeva: Today we were discussing the final stage of our working process, namely the issues which we have covered in all policy areas. The summit agenda will include all the issues which we have been discussing throughout the year. The G20 Leaders will certainly focus mostly on the global economic situation, economic growth, fiscal and financial stabilization, as well as job creation, which is among the key priorities of Russia's Presidency.
Question: Has there been significant changes in the agenda since you started discussing it, considering that the main topics were outlined at the beginning of the year?
Ksenia Yudaeva: No, it has not changed much in terms of its essence and the working process. We did better on some issues than on others. But of course, the global economic agenda itself has changed. At the end of last year we were discussing currency wars and tensions in Europe, whereas the focus has now shifted to other issues. Economic growth, which was declared our priority, is moving to the fore given that all international organizations and all countries have downgraded their economic growth forecasts this year. That is exactly why it is the top priority for the moment.
We are once again discussing ways to exit from non-conventional monetary and credit policies, their spillover impact on other countries, and the need to coordinate policies and possibly to create some hedging instruments for emergency purposes. In other words, when the economic situation changed, the agenda of the G20 in its part of responding to the current economic challenges was reviewed as well, , in order to formulate new proposals for the agenda and to coordinate our current policies. On the other hand, I would not say that is not what we did not expect to happen. We realized that the situation would keep changing and that we would need to be ready for these changes.
Question: Was it difficult to find consensus among the 20 participants? It is clear that they are working as a team and no one has ruled out globalization, but each country has its own interests and they sometimes clash. Has anyone tried to take a larger share of the pie?
Ksenia Yudaeva: It all depends on the issue. There is a broad range of issues that are well aligned. For example, we were discussing our accomplishments in the field of development and the fight against corruption. There is much consensus in these areas, and the same refers to the financial agenda and technical issues.
However, some issues tend to provoke heated debates, above all the issues that concern trade and protectionism. We have moved our discussions to the political level. Some countries see the anti-protectionism agenda as a temporary political maneuver related to the agreements of the Doha round. In principle, if we consider trade as an anti-crisis policy aimed at preventing the rapid growth of protectionism, it is certainly a policy of economic growth. In short, we do hold such discussions, and by the way, it is one of the issues that only the G20 Leaders can harmonize during their summit.
Question: There are very many issues on the agenda and all of them are important. Don't you think that the large number of issues on the table can have a negative impact on the quality of the agreed solutions?
Ksenia Yudaeva: The G20 is a multilayered process. Many decisions are agreed on the expert level, while the most questionable or the most strategically important issues are suggested for the Leaders' discussion. To ensure the highest quality at the highest level, we leave it to the Leaders to choose the particular issues for their discussions. On the other hand, the issues which we suggest for the Leaders are considered to be important by the Leaders themselves. This is what ensures the high quality of work.
For example, one of the new issues, which we have aligned to a great extent but which we have nevertheless proposed for the summit agenda, deals with taxation. You know that the OECD has prepared a new report and launched an Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The international tax agreements and tax regimes, which were initially designed to foster fair taxation, have created major gaps in the tax regimes in the 21st century, particularly in the era of globalization. The OECD Action Plan is designed to bridge these gaps. We will discuss it, because it requires a political decision.
Question: It has already happened before, in particular during the G20 Summit in France, that the Leaders discussed the issues that were not on their agenda. When it was planned to talk of volatility they actually talked of Greece. Is it possible that the agenda for this year's summit will fall behind the changes in the economic situation?
Ksenia Yudaeva: There is always the risk of this kind. I cannot give you a 100% guarantee that this will not happen, but I have already said that the global economic agenda is changing. We are above all interested in economic growth, an issue that has been identified as a priority. Therefore, there is a high probability that the Leaders will pay considerable attention to it while discussing the global economic situation.
Question: You mentioned the issue of relevance. Indeed, economic growth and attracting investment are the issues of great relevance for Russia.
A while ago, the Russian Minister of Economic Development said at a government meeting that GDP growth was slowing down in Russia, investments were not growing and industrial production rate was hovering around zero. What are we doing wrong? What do we need to do to change the situation? I am addressing this question to you as the Chief of the Presidential Experts' Directorate.
Ksenia Yudaeva: Unfortunately, this has not been happening only in Russia, as discussions at the Sherpas' Meeting have shown. Economic growth has slowed in many countries. Japan is a big exception, though. Economic growth has accelerated in Japan, but it has slowed down in other countries, including our neighbors and our main trading partners, Europe and China. So it is the world in general, not just Russia, that is doing something wrong.
However, speaking about the Russian agenda, we need to determine if we are working hard enough to improve the business climate, to create normal and adequate financial instruments, to stimulate and finance investment, and so on.
Russia's agenda for the G20 meets our domestic interests for the most part. Stimulating investment is what we need. Creating good jobs is on Russia's national agenda. I believe that we can use a great deal of what the G20 has been doing to improve our internal economic policy.
Question: Speaking practically, do you expect any breakthrough decisions at the G20 Summit in September?
Ksenia Yudaeva: I don't know what you mean by concrete breakthrough decisions. We certainly expect our Leaders to endorse a large number of the initiatives which we have been discussing, creating conditions for our future work. There are interesting initiatives for the investment agenda, a tax initiative, which I have mentioned before. There is also an Action Plan - what is known as the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth, under which the member countries will assume numerous obligations as part of the policies they intend to implement. We believe that the G20 Leaders will endorse this plan. In other words, we expect that our Leaders will approve many practical decisions in all areas.
Full video of the interview can be found here (only Russian version)