Thu, November 13, 2008
Business > Economy

China set to show the way forward

2008-11-13 03:16:05 GMT2008-11-13 11:16:05 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Economists and financial experts from China expect currency realignment, international liquidity and fiscal stimulus issues to dominate the deliberations at the G20 summit in Washington on November 15.

The government and many economists agree that maintaining stable growth is key to weathering the financial turmoil and keeping recession at bay.

The 4 trillion yuan stimulus package announced by the government on Sunday is seen by many as a major initiative taken by China to ward off global recession.

"With nearly $2 trillion in foreign reserves and a budget surplus, China has wider scope for fiscal stimulus than governments in many developing economies that face big external deficits and high debt burdens," said Jing Ulrich, managing director and chairwoman of China Equities, J.P. Morgan.

Economists said that while establishing a new international financial architecture would be difficult and time-consuming, the summit could help in starting a dialogue between developed countries and large emerging markets.

But they aver that G20 member nations will at least be able to agree on a plan on how to move forward through increasing coordination and mutual understanding.

Economists say China is too big an economy not to make a bigger voice today. That's why they believe the summit participants would probably expect China to play a bigger role and shoulder more responsibility in line with its rising economic size.

Playing an active role in re-establishing the financial architecture and helping in global economic stability will bring international prestige and real benefits to China, they said.

"Due to the trade contribution to growth, helping to minimize (the impact of) the global economic slowdown is certainly in China's best interest," said Ulrich.

Economists and financial experts may look at China in the short-term to provide US dollar liquidity to the central banks of many countries, continue to hold US dollar assets in foreign exchange reserves, and, in the medium-term adopt a more flexible exchange rate system.

Emphasizing China's growing prominence, some economists also suggest giving China a stronger position in key international monetary organizations to bring its function into full play in reshaping the new international financial architect.

Wang Tao, an economist of UBS Securities told China Daily: "Increasing China's role in important international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is likely to be discussed."

Other economists agree. "It seems likely that other countries, perhaps even the Europeans, may be more open to talking about re-allocating IMF voting rights to reflect the new shape of the world economy," Stephen Green, head of research, China, Standard Chartered said. "So anything China can do to stabilize the world economy at this point - and we include recapitalizing the IMF in this - should be seriously considered."

Experts and economists, however, are not too sure whether European countries are too keen on supporting China's rising position in international organizations such as IMF. For European nations, such a step might reduce their influence in the international financial system.

The US government will be also required to brief other countries on what it plans to do with regard to the financial system and the economy, how they are going to stimulate domestic demand and stabilize the financial system.

Experts will also look at the US moves on providing liquidity through swap facilities to help stabilize currencies of emerging markets and the steps taken to prop up the housing sector.

"Of course the US government may not have all the answers, but I would expect all these questions would be asked and discussed," said Wang Tao at UBS Securities.

Economists said while the US and European countries expect China to adopt a more flexible foreign exchange rate system, they do not expect a big change in currency policy in the years to come.

Stephen Green at Standard Chartered told China Daily: "We think that Beijing will keep the renminbi stable against the US dollar, and this will provide some stability in Asia. Competitive devaluations around the region would add to instability at this point."

Wang expected the exchange rate of renminbi against US dollar to remain stable for the coming year at 6.8.

Economists and financial experts say the summit could provide a chance for decision makers and regulators around the world to rethink the international consequences of their domestic policy in a more globalized world.

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