Roundtable on the G20 Meeting

Roundtable on the G20 Meeting

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - November 17, 2008


GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our nations agreed that we must make the markets, the financial markets more transparent and accountable.

GORDON BROWN, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We also agreed on the importance of rejecting protectionism. And this was a very big theme of the meeting, not turning inwards in terms of financial uncertainty.

KEVIN RUDD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINSTER: The summit has not only rejected protectionism, but has agreed to an objective of reaching a new global free trade agreement by the end of 2008.


HUME: To hear that from those three leaders--of course, they're all allies and friends and pretty much free market economy, representing free market economies, you would think that the global economic summit was a big push forward for the free market system worldwide.

The question is, was it, and if it was, what did they accomplish- -Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Not much. No harm, but some good. For example, the declarations against the protectionism. It's only words, but it's still words, pledges that no one would raise tariffs in the coming years.

You also had some compromises. The Europeans had wanted an international regulator of the financial markets, which was a non-starter, because the countries aren't going to cede sovereignty that much, and, secondly, there is no one omniscient enough that could be a regulator of all the markets. It's hard enough to regulate a national market.

But I love the substitute, which was announced, a "college of regulators." I love that term. It recalls the College of Cardinals deliberating with divine inspiration. I expect that when they issue a particular important report, it will be proceeded by a puff of white smoke.

But it is going to be a committee that will look at things, develop information, share information, and be an early warning system.

So I think overall it helped. And there was one other aspect. It expanded what used to be the G7 to include India, China, Brazil, Russia, and other emerging economies, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, who have a lot of extra capital which could help if the IMF needs it.

So I think expanding the base and including them was an inevitable step and a good one.

EASTON: Divine inspiration it wasn't, but I agree with Charles, it was a step in the right direction.

But, also, it was fairly remarkable that you had a compromise from the right, which is free marketers like President Bush agreeing to an international regulatory cooperation. And he even looked a little shaken today when he was talking about it. That's where things have come.

And then from the left, you saw a compromise on the left. You said, a stab against protectionism, and also a willingness to kick off the Doha Round again.

HUME: The Doha Round is?

EASTON: The Doha round is the latest World Trade Organization talks, which would bring down barriers from around the world.

HUME: That's the free trade agreement by the end of next year that Rudd of Australia was mentioning?

EASTON: Right.

And the point of that is, and what is interesting about it now is that some of the middle-sized countries like India and Brazil were the ones who were behind the downfall of it in the first place.

So the fact that they were willing to say, look, we are going to try this again, was a good thing.

It was a short time period. There wasn't a lot they could do. But, you know, there was broad agreement. And this wasn't just the G7 countries. It is important to remember the fact that 20 countries were in agreement to this, and who don't have the same interests.

KONDRACKE: All of that is correct. And what's more, it did not turn into an America-bashing session, which is what I expected, frankly, that the Europeans were going to blame it all on us, and that everybody was going to rant and rave about that.

Instead, they did agree to a cooperation on general principles. They haven't actually established any institutions yet, but they're on the way to doing it. They're going to meet again in April with Barack Obama present, which is what counts, because George Bush can't do anything.

HUME: What kind of message will he take on free trade? You do you think this would move him, perhaps, that you have all these countries will to align on that, that would be at least on paper bucking most of the rest of the world?

KONDRACKE: My guess is that agreeing in principle on free trade will be easy for him. The rubber will hit the road when a free trade agreement has to be negotiated--

HUME: Colombia could be signed now.

EASTON: Exactly.

KRAUTHAMMER: But he won't renegotiate NAFTA.

HUME: Let's hope not.

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