Syria weighs on economic focus of G-20 summit

Heads of the G20 leading economies take their positions after arriving for the family photo of the G20 summit, at the convention center in Los Cabos, Mexico, on June 18, 2012.

Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies meet in St. Petersburg today, scheduled to talk about tax evasion, interest rates, and regional trade agreements. But political tensions over Syria could affect the tenor of the summit.

With Russia, China, and even Britain opposed to a possible U.S. strike in Syria, it’s not an easy time for President Obama to push U.S. interests, but it’s not the first time that politics have accompanied economic discussions at the G-20.

“When we had the Arab Spring, the financial crisis did not take a back seat to it,” says Lida Preyma, a researcher with the G-20 Research Group at the University of Toronto. “Vladimir Putin is quite adamant on his stance about Syria, and he’s also  quite adamant about the agenda he’s set for the G-20 itself. For him, global growth is the number one issue.”

According to Douglas Rediker*, a visiting fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the most important economic discussions may have already taken place—without heads of state. “I think most of the technical economic issues are largely agreed to at the level of the finance ministers,” he says. "So in that regard Syria is not going to be a dominant or even a sub-issue." 
But with the spirit of compromise weakened among heads of state, Rediker says, don’t expect any sweeping new initiatives.

*CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly spelled economist Douglas Rediker's name. The text has been corrected.

Log in to post1 Comment

Isn't it a little disturbing that the G20 can get together to discuss global economics while ignoring the big gorrila in the room? All of the leaders should be summarily dismissed since they do not understand the economic significance of military escalation in the middle east. They also don't seem to understand the human suffering.

Wouldn't this gathering of the 20 strongest countires be a good opportunity to try to come up with a peaceful solution in Syria?

The problem is that the global economy is controlled by the military/industrial/energy complex, and more military intervention is good for those sectors. They control the US government, so military intervention is usually the chosen option.

The American people have an opportunity to speak up since the House and Senate are debating the Syrian issue. People need to call and write their Congressmen/women and Senators and tell them what they think. Perhaps they will listen and they will not authorize "targeted bombing attacks" by US missiles. Obama has already said he will probably go ahead without their approval since he claims he has the power to authorize the intervention without their approval. That would be very revealing. It would, in my opinion show that he is just a puppet, and his strings are being pulled by the powerful forces that prosper from military intervention.

Energy from oil is perpetuating the need to intervene in the middle east. This is quite clear. The problem in the 21st century, is one ripple can have tremendous consquences in the region. Syria is a strong military force and could cause dominoes to fall. A huge regional conflict could develop with staggering effects.

My own personal dream - the US government supports human rights here and everywhere in the world. The US becomes a peaceful mediator without any influence from the military/industrial/energy complex. The US begins a meaningful transition to clean and safe renewable energy and electric vehicles so we don't need to continue to intervene in the middle east.

With Generous Support From...