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Vow to jump-start growth

G20 finance leaders have weak economy on mind

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WASHINGTON -- World finance leaders pledged to pursue further actions to bolster a weak global recovery. They also reaffirmed their commitment to avoid using currencies as an economic weapon to gain unfair advantage in foreign trade.

Finance ministers and central bank presidents from the leading rich nations, or Group of 20, wrapped up two days of talks Friday with a joint statement that said they had managed to avoid some of the biggest economic threats, but growth is still too weak in many countries and unemployment too high.

The joint statement revealed no major new policy initiatives but did urge countries to emphasize efforts to jump-start growth even if that means less emphasis on deficit reduction in the near term.

"Further actions are required to make growth strong, sustainable and balanced," the G20 said.

The discussions were led by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov whose country is leading the G20 this year.

The G20 joint statement singled out the recent aggressive credit-easing moves pushed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying they were intended to stop prolonged deflation and support domestic demand.

Those comments were viewed as giving a green-light to Japan's program, which has driven the value of the yen down by more than 20 per cent against the dollar since October. That sizable decline has raised concerns among U.S. manufacturing firms that Japan's real goal is not to fight deflation, a destabilizing period of falling prices, but to weaken the yen as a way to gaining trade advantages.

To address those concerns, the G20 repeated language it used in February that all countries should not use their currency as a trade weapon and guard against policies that could trigger currency wars.

Japanese officials told reporters they were pleased by the support the G20 had given them to pursue growth policies in an effort to lift the world's third-largest economy out of its two-decade slump.

Haruhiko Kuroda, head of the Bank of Japan, said Japan would continue with its monetary easing policies, which he said were aimed at stimulating domestic growth and fighting deflation and not an effort to gain trade advantages.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 20, 2013 B10

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