SYDNEY – Global growth is the buzzword for this weekend's summit of leaders from the 20 biggest industrialized and developing economies and there are high expectations the gathering will deliver an ambitious plan to boost the world's GDP by more than $2 trillion.
When the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers met in February, they agreed to more than 900 policy initiatives aimed at lifting global GDP by 2 percent above expected levels over the next five years, potentially creating millions of new jobs.
The G-20 has made finalizing this initiative its top priority for the weekend meeting in Brisbane, Australia. That is unsurprising given the stubborn lethargy of the global economy, which has struggled to recover since the 2008 financial crisis. China's economy has slowed, Japan is in a malaise and Europe is teetering on the brink of recession.
Many praised the G-20 for setting a specific, measurable goal. But others have criticized it as not being ambitious enough.
Details of exactly how the nations will reach the growth target remain sketchy. Australian Treasurer and summit host Joe Hockey said the group agreed to focus on private sector-led growth, particularly from additional investment in infrastructure, to get the job done. Each country is expected to present a comprehensive growth strategy at the summit.
But Fabrizio Carmignani, an economics professor at Griffith University in Australia, warned that the group is unlikely to reveal specifics.
"I don't expect them to come up with a detailed blueprint of what to do in each country in order to achieve the growth target," he said.
"What I would expect is a commitment to economic growth and the recognition that this economic growth must be inclusive," he said. "That the wealth that is produced through economic growth must be accessible to all individuals."
The challenges of achieving the goal have only increased since the February meeting, with international organizations downgrading their growth forecasts in recent months. The International Monetary Fund has also warned that the U.S., Europe and Japan could face years of sluggish growth unless governments intervene.