Canada: Outlook For The G20 St. Petersburg Summit, September 5 And 6, 2013

Last Updated: September 6 2013
Article by Len Edwards

The St Petersburg G20 Summit on September 5 and 6 will be shaped by three factors in descending order of impact — the immediate context, the priorities set by the host, and follow up to previous summit decisions.

While the issue of Syria will likely take up a lot of time in bilateral meetings and corridor discussions, it is extremely unlikely to be a topic of discussion at the summit table.  The G20 is not yet ready for political issues.  Leaders will try not to let it detract from trying to achieve a productive summit and will focus on the economic business at hand.

While some decisions still depend on discussions in St. Petersburg among officials and leaders, signs point to a modestly productive and workmanlike economic Summit.

Most of the outcomes will be satisfactory to Prime Minister Harper and his government.  Many of the decisions will be consistent with his priorities over the years in the G20, including promoting economic growth, fiscal consolidation, better financial regulation, and promotion of international trade.

Economic Context

On the eve of St. Petersburg, there are no economic or financial emergencies that need attention.  The global economy is still struggling (the IMF has recently pared back its 2013 growth estimates), but with the slow improvements evident in the US,  with Japan on the mend, and with indications that the EU may be finally coming out of its slump, leaders will want to "stay the course" and send positive signals to markets.

As regards advanced countries, we should expect a repeat of the G8 Summit formula in June (and largely adopted at the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in July) in which a fine balance was struck between stressing the need for medium term fiscal consolidation plans (as set out in the Toronto communiqué in 2010 —  and still more or less on track) and allowing for case by case variations in some countries struggling to rekindle growth, such as in southern Europe.  President Obama will argue for this kind of flexibility. Prime Minister Harper and Chancellor Merkel will be among the strongest voices pushing for firm plans and target dates for bringing deficits under control.

The international business community look for leaders to support the launching of negotiations on trade facilitation when World Trade Organization ministers meet later in the year.  With the Doha multilateral round on hold, these talks could at least yield some benefits for global trade.  The private sector would also like to see a renewal of the Toronto G20 "standstill" commitment against taking new protectionist trade measures, although the record has been mixed in its implementation.  However, getting agreements on trade issues has always been difficult in the G20 given the range of interests in the group, so a positive outcome at the Summit on these matters is not assured.

The only new concern for St. Petersburg will be the slowing of growth in China, and the doldrums now evident in India, Brazil, and in other emerging economies.  But it is still be too early to push any panic buttons.

In the meantime, the juxtaposition of this development with the apparent if uneven economic revival in the developed world is causing fault lines to re-emerge within the G20 on such issues as capital flows (this time away from emerging markets) and currency weaknesses in places such India, Indonesia and Turkey.  These fault lines will be evident in the discussions in Russia on the global economy, especially around the effects in the emerging countries of the end of quantitative easing and return to higher interest rates in the USA and elsewhere.

There is some irony in the fact that the next set of global weaknesses may arise not in developed countries but in the emerging economies, which have kept the global economy afloat since 2008.  Sooner or later the G20 will need to discuss the impact of this structural slowdown on the longer-term outlook for the global economy and what it means for G20 policies and collaboration in meeting the group's agreement at the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009 to achieve "strong, sustainable and balanced" global growth.

Perhaps that discussion is something for the 2014 G20 Summit in Australia, a country very much feeling the effects of China's moderating growth rate. In the meantime, while progress is being made among the G20 in meeting the 2009 objective, the easing of the crisis has meant less motivation to tackle the tough issues, such as labour market reform in advanced countries, or more market-driven exchange rate systems in emerging ones.

Russian Priorities for St. Petersburg

To the surprise of some observers, Russian President Putin did not come up with a list of ambitious new "signature" initiatives for the Russian chairmanship.  The G20 work agenda is already heavily laden.  Instead, Russia has emphasized continuity and stewardship through a set of priorities that picks up or builds on past themes.

On macroeconomic issues, for example, the Russians have focused on the timely subject of jobs and employment, and how governments can best tackle structural unemployment and promote employment of vulnerable groups such as youth.  From within the G20's lengthy "development agenda", they are looking for ways to enhance long term financing arrangements for badly needed infrastructure projects in developing countries.

The Russians have also predictably taken some ownership of the G20's Energy Sustainability theme, building on previous work and using an existing Working Group.  The objectives however have been relatively modest, focusing on transparency and functioning of international commodity and energy markets, for example, and some attention to green energy and energy efficiency policies in the G20.

In these and other areas the Russian President is looking for some "wins" to put in the window as his G20 achievements.

One such "win", probably unanticipated at the beginning of the year, will be a decision in St. Petersburg to adopt the OECD "Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting" as the roadmap for G20 approaches to future international taxation agreements.  The Plan offers a way for governments to cooperate in setting new standards and processes so as to prevent "double non-taxation" by multi-national companies looking to reduce their tax load.

Following Up on Previous Commitments

Some good outcomes for the Russians and their guests will probably lie in the progress that officials have registered over the past year in advancing the G20 work plan and implementing previous decisions.  Accountability for meeting past commitments (promoted by Canada ahead of the Toronto Summit) is slowly becoming an accepted principle underlying G20 credibility.

Surprisingly for some, the Russian chair has vigorously backed the G20's Anti- Corruption initiative, which dates from the Toronto Summit, and is said to be nearing some solid outcomes for delivery in St. Petersburg.  The irony of Russia driving this item is hard to miss: the positive view is that many in the Russian Government believe that a strong outcome will help them deal with the problem at home.

Two other important "legacy" items will also get attention in St. Petersburg.

On the very positive side,  leaders should be expected to welcome progress and call for further work on the financial regulatory agenda.  Driven by finance ministers and officials, this agenda has been central to the G20's summit agenda from very beginning.  It is technically complex, but enormously important.  This year it is has focused on more effective domestic regulation of "too big to fail" financial institutions (with an emphasis on ensuring they have adequate reserves for emergencies), of insurance companies and "shadow banking" entities.  Leaders can be expected to urge deadlines be met for domestic implementation of new regulatory standards.  Authorities may also be instructed to develop better cross-border legal and other frameworks to link domestic regimes and handle emergencies when the "to big to fail" multinationals get into trouble.

Finally, Leaders must urge their finance ministries to meet the end of year deadlines for the reform of the governance of the IMF as agreed in Seoul three years ago.  This reform would give more voice to emerging economies commensurate with their share of the global economy.  Some problems have arisen in the US and Europe where resistance naturally exists to giving up power.


While the Syria issue will probably steal the media spotlight (much to Russian dismay), the St. Petersburg Summit should achieve some good outcomes: solid progress on the financial regulation agenda, the adoption of the OECD Action Plan on international taxation cooperation, and a good Anti-Corruption package.  This will be accompanied by further directions from leaders about  continued attention to reviving the global economy —perhaps with some words of caution about the softening in emerging markets and the need for structural changes to underpin future growth everywhere.

The outcomes on other issues mentioned above — of which international trade is the most important to Canada — will depend on the negotiations among officials and at the table in the hours up to and during the summit.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions