SYDNEY (AP) — Finance chiefs from the 20 largest economies said on Sunday they are close to reaching their goal of boosting world GDP by more than $2 trillion over the next five years, and will focus on infrastructure investment to help reach the target.
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, who hosted the Group of 20 meeting in the northern Australian city of Cairns, said the G-20 finance ministers and central bankers had agreed to more than 900 policy initiatives to meet the goal they set in February during a gathering in Sydney.
The G-20, which represents about 85 percent of the global economy, said an analysis of those initiatives show they should boost the combined gross domestic product of member countries by 1.8 percent above levels expected for the next five years — just short of the group's target of 2 percent.
In July, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its economic forecast, estimating the world economy would expand 3.4 percent this year, rather than the 3.7 percent it had previously predicted, due to weaker growth in the U.S., Russia and developing economies.
Last week, the lending organization amped up pressure on the G-20 to take action on its global growth commitment, calling for decisive structural reforms. On Sunday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the G-20 would need to concentrate on labor market measures and infrastructure in order to reach its 2 percent growth goal by 2018.
"They are almost done, but need to do a bit more," Lagarde told reporters after the meeting.
Hockey said the group had agreed to shift its focus from government-led growth to private sector-led growth, particular from additional investment in infrastructure. In a communique issued after the meeting, the G-20 outlined a Global Infrastructure Initiative, which would include the development of a database to help match potential investors with projects.
The group also warned that while economic conditions had improved in some key economies, global growth remained uneven and below the pace necessary to generate critically needed jobs.
Hockey said the group would deliver "concrete outcomes" by the time the main G-20 summit is held in November in the Australian city of Brisbane.
"We will now redouble efforts and hold each other to account on meeting this target as we go forward," he said.
The G-20 represents the world's major industrialized and developing countries. Its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.