The Latest on Currency: Lula Steps Up at G8

July 9, 2009

Lula2Gregory Chin
Senior Fellow, CIGI

On the eve of their meeting with the G8, the G5 group of major emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa – discussed the use of their own currencies to settle trade accounts among themselves, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters. According to Menon, the suggestion to explore this possibility came from Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Menon wanted to clarify that this does not mean the G5 having a new currency or alternative reserve currency. China, Russia, Brazil, France, and to a lesser degree India had expressed an interest in the talks between G5 and G8 leaders due on Thursday including debate on seeking long-term alternatives to the US dollar as the global reserve currency. Brazil and China have, of course, already established arrangements to settle a portion of their trade in their own currencies.

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China’s Currency Challenge

July 5, 2009

Gregory Chin
Senior Fellow, CIGI

Statements from the Chinese representatives that it would be “normal” for currency issues to be discussed at the G8 Summit has set off a reaction from the established members of the Club. Japanese representatives have retorted that the currency issue is a side issue that can be discussed at ‘side meetings’ of the emerging economies, holding tight to the view that ‘only one currency is needed’ – blocking the issue from the agenda.

Regardless of whether or not the currency issue is ultimately put on the agenda at L’Aquila, the reality is that the currency challenge has become a systemic issue that is demanding the attention of the truly global powers. The “G7”, like it or not, will be meeting this year, in an atmosphere of global uncertainty, as leaders from Russia, Brazil, China, and other countries, have expressed concerns about the value and stability of the U.S. dollar, and the world economy’s dependence on the dollar as the reserve currency. What makes the currency question an issue of systemic relevancy is that Chinese authorities have undertaken a series of measures that indicate that Beijing is interested in gradually expanding the role of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) as an international currency.

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