Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed hope that next week’s G-20 Seoul Summit would pave the ground for global economic recovery by successfully dealing with the reforms of the banking system and the International Monetary Fund.
In an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency, Gillard said she will actively support South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s move to have sustainable and inclusive development on the agenda of the G-20 summit slated for November 11-12.
“I think the focus of this summit needs to be on securing the global economic recovery. I am making sure that I’m doing the work necessary to lift global economic growth and that we’re continuing to create jobs around the globe,” Gillard said in the interview at her office in Sydney Thursday.
“I’m looking forward to this summit dealing with the reforms of the banking system and the international monetary fund that have been worked on by finance ministers,” she said, referring to agreements reached at a meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs in South Korea’s Gyeongju last month.
Broad frameworks for solutions to the global currency war and IMF reforms were agreed upon during the Gyeongju meeting, but the details have yet to be agreed upon. Lee, as president of the host country, has vowed to mediate between member countries to reach effective solutions at the Seoul summit.
Gillard, who was sworn in as Australia’s first female prime minister in September, stressed that leaders of the world’s 20 major economies should make some progress in defusing the unfolding global currency war.
“We believe that it is important that there is a market system for exchange rates when Australia has a floating Australian dollar. We believe to develop that for the globe is going to take some time but the progress does need to be made.”
She noted that Australia has been emerging strongly from the global financial crisis and is looking forward to around 3 percent growth this year.
The Australian leader called Seoul’s hosting of the global economic summit “terrific,” noting that South Korea, having journeyed from a developing country to a developed one, is in a very special position to facilitate global economic discussions.
On bilateral issues, Gillard said that Australia and South Korea, celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, will further boost bilateral relationship across the board and closely cooperate in the G-20 efforts to overcome the global financial crisis.
With regard to the ongoing free trade negotiations between the two countries, Gillard expressed expectations for some progress in the agricultural sector, in particular.
“Our officials are working hard and negotiations are continuing. Australia is seeking some changes in the way in which our agricultural produce is dealt with in Korea. We are also seeking access to services markets,” said the Australian prime minister.
“There are a range of other matters that our officials are working through, but we are good friends and will continue the conversation and hopefully, work our way through to an agreement.”
In her first summit with South Korean President Lee in Brussels in October, Gillard said she hoped the two sides will strike a free trade deal as early as possible. Lee, in return, noted that related negotiations that began in May of last year are going relatively well despite a few months of delay due to Australia’s election.