Barack's visit is summit special

EAST Ham MP Stephen Timms poses a question this week: Where will Barack Obama make his first overseas visit as President of the USA: (a) Tokyo; (b) Beijing; (c) Tehran; (d) Berlin or (e) Newham? The answer is (e) Newham. (Of course – otherwise I wouldn t

EAST Ham MP Stephen Timms poses a question this week: Where will Barack Obama make his first overseas visit as President of the USA: (a) Tokyo; (b) Beijing; (c) Tehran; (d) Berlin or (e) Newham?

The answer is (e) Newham. (Of course - otherwise I wouldn't have asked the question!) Because Barack Obama - along with the Chinese Premier and the leaders of all the largest economies in the world - will be attending the G20 summit under Gordon Brown's chairmanship at ExCeL in Custom House on April 2.

Forecasts for the world economy are very gloomy. The IMF suggest it might not grow at all this year - the first time since the Second World War. Every country is being affected. At first, it was possible to believe it would only affect the banks. Now it is clear whole economies are being affected.

The summit is a key moment for world leaders to come together to agree a pathway out of the recession. The summit theme is stability, growth and jobs. The UK Government has four priorities for it.


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First, we want to see further action agreed between countries to increase world demand, in order to promote growth and protect jobs.

Second, with turmoil in financial markets continuing, we want international agreement on new rules and structures, to fill in regulatory gaps. Financial regulators were watching what was happening in each country, but few had the job of watching what was happening internationally. The summit needs to tackle this gap.

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We also want the summit to increase global co-operation on tax evasion, which has played a part in what's gone wrong.

Last week, on behalf of the Treasury, I signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Jersey. The idea is that, to work out how much tax someone should pay, the tax authorities sometimes need to know about accounts or companies in Jersey.

Thanks to the agreement, UK authorities can now ask the Jersey authorities to find out the information, and pass it over. The G20 summit will press for many more of these agreements to be put in place.

Third, we want to reform the international financial institutions - such as the IMF and the World Bank. We need them to serve the interests of all countries. The IMF urgently needs more resources in order that it can help countries badly affected by the global recession, and help stimulate global demand.

Fourth, world leaders must put the world economy on track for sustainable growth, ensuring the benefits extend to the poorest.

The crisis puts at risk progress towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty, and the summit needs to address that. And the summit also needs to keep within its sights the urgent need to tackle climate change, leading up to the major climate change summit taking place in Copenhagen later this year.

So Newham will be playing host to a crucial meeting for the world economy - helping us get used to our new role on the world stage in the years ahead.

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