US Treasury Secretary John Snow hosted G7 Ministers and Central Bank Governors at a joint meeting today in Washington, D.C. The April 23-24 meeting of the ministers and governors coincides with the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, taking place April 23-25. He says the unifying theme of discussions was economic growth, and that the strengthening global recovery provided an “upbeat backdrop”. (See link to G7 Statement below) The G7 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
According to Secretary Snow, the United States is leading the global recovery, with growth having accelerated to 6.2 percent in the second half of 2003 – the fastest in almost 20 years – and with growth in the first quarter of this year expected to be in the 4 to 5 percent range. He said this last prediction is based on private sector estimates. The good news extended beyond the United States, with Japan and the United Kingdom reported to have turned in several good quarters, and with encouraging initial signs of an upturn in continental Europe. Economic fundamentals are also strengthening in many emerging markets countries and higher global growth will reinforce the gains from stronger policies. *”Countries should take advantage of current favorable circumstances to implement reforms that will help achieve lasting stability,”*said Secretary Snow.
The Ministers and Governors agreed today to redouble efforts to strengthen and broaden growth for the future. They reviewed the progress made under the Agenda for Growth (see link below), including key steps on tax reform, and labor markets flexibility.
As part of the preparation for the upcoming Sea Island Summit of G8 nations, the meeting discussed the ongoing Strategic Review of the international financial institutions, developing the consensus that recent reforms must be built upon. This includes improving IMF assessments of economic policies and potential risks and refocusing the IMF and World Bank on their core mandates.
**Fight Against Terrorism Financing**
Over this weekend, the Ministers and Governors met with senior officials from key countries, the World Bank, the IMF, the European Commission, and the Financial Action Task Force to discuss how to improve asset freezing regimes, stop cross-border transfers of cash to terrorists, and provide attractive alternatives to underground money transfers. They strongly welcomed the IMF/World Bank commitment to comprehensive assessments of the entire anti-money laundering and terrorist financing standard.
Yesterday, the Ministers released a Joint Statement on Combatting Terrorist Financing. They called on all nations to participate fully in the international effort to choke off such financing. *”As international financial leaders, we have special responsibilities for the domestic and multilateral fight against terrorist financing and for protecting the integrity of the global financial system. We have made significant progress in this struggle, but much more needs to be done.”*
The Ministers welcome the recent decisions by the IMF and World Bank to make comprehensive assessments of country compliance with the recognized anti-terrorist financing/anti-money laundering standard a regular part of their activities. *”We urge more capacity building through technical assistance to shore up identified gaps in the regimes to fight terrorism finance and money laundering. We also note with satisfaction the FATF’s decision to expand dialogue with non-members.”*
The joint statement affirmed the continuation of efforts to achieve the worldwide implementation of the international standards to combat terrorist financing. *”We will work to ensure that our asset freezing regimes are effective and requests to take asset freezing action are communicated, implemented, and enforced in our jurisdictions fully and without delay.”*
The Ministers also committed to working quickly and decisively to implement measures that the United Nations has identified as essential to combating terrorist financing; and to work with the international financial institutions, FATF, and other multilateral bodies to implement internationally recognized standards pertaining to terrorist financing, money laundering and financial sector regulation and supervision.
President Bush will host a G8 Summit on June 8-10 in Sea Island, Georgia. This Summit will bring together the Leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union also attends G8 Summits, represented by the President of the European Commission and the Leader of the country holding the Presidency of the European Council. At previous Summits, Leaders have discussed a wide range of international economic, political, and security issues.