Gonzalo Canseco, chief of staff to the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, told Today's Zaman in an interview last week that his country does not believe a permanent secretariat would be helpful to the G-20 in addressing challenges facing the global economy today. “We are somewhat skeptical of creating a new institution. We do not think it will necessarily facilitate the efficiency and efficacy that the [world economic] system requires,” he said, speaking from Mexico City.
Canseco also emphasized that the G-20 must strive to find an approach that allows the group to function with “continuity and, above all, a follow-up mechanism” to ensure that commitments made during the G-20 summits are in fact to be followed through. “Let's make sure that pledges are fulfilled,” he said, adding, “We think that we must come up with a new flexible and innovative arrangement.”
The senior Mexican diplomat suggested that all these issues would be discussed at the upcoming summit in the Mexican resort town of Los Cabos on June 18-19. “The challenge is to avoid creating a new bureaucracy,” he stated.
The notion of a permanent secretariat for the G-20 was first raised by France and has garnered support from members such as South Korea. It was discussed at both the Seoul and Cannes summits but participants have failed to reach a consensus. Turkey supports Mexico's position against the new structure. The leaders agree that the 20 nations, which together represent 90 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP), should hold one summit a year.
Canseco believes the upcoming summit will be successful, citing the vast new resources the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was able to raise on the eve of the summit. “Everybody feels that they [the G-20 leaders] will arrive at genuine results. We are optimistic,” he said, noting that Mexico as chair will have made a significant contribution to previously established priority issues. “I hope that we can contribute to boosting financial and economic stability around the globe and that substantial consensus can be arrived at,” he remarked.
Commenting on stalled IMF reforms intended to give more of a voice to developing economies such as Mexico and Turkey, Conseco said the issue will arise for debate at the summit. “We are trying to look forward in terms of global financial architecture. The current arrangement [for financial structures of the IMF and the World Bank] is overdue for major changes. We hope that we can make some progress on that to ensure current representation reflects the evolving world,” he explained. The US and Europe, dominant powers of the IMF, agreed in 2010 to voting reforms, as well as to their extension by January 2014, but since then the process has stalled.
Conseco also delivered a message to a Europe struggling to overcome the eurozone crisis amid sovereign debt and political instability. Noting that Mexico has experience in dealing with economic crises, he said, “We do have a great number of people who are experienced and can share their expertise with a number of other countries, for example Europe,” adding the caveat, “If they are willing to listen, of course.” Conseco further described Mexico's current position as a vindication of responsible macroeconomic management, which has managed to produce real results for the nation. “We have developed our economy at significant cost and sacrifice. We should be able to share some of this experience with those who are willing to listen to us,” he stated.
Following the implementation of fiscal and monetary reforms, Mexico exhibits sound economic indicators today, with a healthy growth projection of 4 percent by the year's end. It has reduced government budget deficit and debt levels and quickly recovered from the 2008-09 recession.
Recalling last year's race for the position of IMF chairperson, in which Mexico nominated Mexican banker Agustin Carstens to challenge front-runner French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, Conseco said Mexico has made an important contribution to the representation of developing economies. “We worked very hard to make that happen. The time was not right. It is an idea that will come,” he said, then adding, “By nominating a Mexican candidate and canvassing the world we made some contribution to ensuring that future candidates will be selected based on merit rather than nationality.”
Carstens was seen as the underdog candidate in the race to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the Washington-based IMF after Strauss-Kahn was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. Carstens was credited with the successful handling of Mexico's peso crisis in 1994, and is considered well-informed about the IMF and the need for further reforms.
Conseco, however, offers a prediction: “I would not be surprised if the next chairperson came from the developing world.”