Business Summit ends with greater voice to G20 process

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The Seoul G20 Business Summit wrapped up its two-day run with a closing conference, calling on both political leaders and business circles to achieve balanced growth through stronger partnership.

At the press conference, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestle, announced a joint statement, in which participating leaders applauded the G20's moves to engage the business community in consolidating the recovery and securing the long-term stability of the global economy.

The joint statement identified robust debates and deliberations the participant business leaders went through both before and during the Business Summit, demonstrating the business community' s zeal and efforts to take part in the G20 process.

In the joint statement, the leaders tried to deliver voices from industries to the G20 leaders, seeking to reflect their opinions in the policy measures to be agreed and implemented at the G20 Summit to be held in Seoul.

Kicking off with a welcome reception and dinner on Wednesday, the two-day event brought together some 120 business leaders that manage influential global companies that stand around top 250 of the Forbes list.

The second day began with an opening plenary session, during which South Korean President Lee Myung-bak gave a speech on a greater role of corporate sector in economic growth.

In his speech, Lee Myung-bak highlighted the role of private sector in economic recovery, saying it is essential to let the business community lead economic growth down the road.

"To revitalize the economy, the corporate sector should be regarded as the most important player," Lee told the participating business leaders.

"Although it has been the government to play a leading role in economic recovery, via fiscal spending, the public sector is now facing greater possibilities of inflation and fiscal deterioration, " Lee added, urging business leaders to take part in creating growth engines.

Sohn Byung-shik, co-chair of the Business Summit, sympathized with the president's view, urging the private sector to participate in promoting "shared growth beyond crisis," which is the theme of the G20 Seoul Summit, slated to kick off later in the day.

For the plenary session, Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum, served as moderator, who highlighted the launch of the Business Summit as a new framework for strong stakeholder integration.

Victor Fung, Honorary Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), also echoed the message of the president at the plenary session, putting stress on the role of private sector, and identifying trade and investment central to economic recovery.

He also claimed a multilateral system is in need, for which political will matters more heavily, hinting at a stronger tie between political and business circles.

Following the plenary session, the participating business leaders were divided into four roundtable sessions, and further into 12 working groups, to hold in-depth discussions on a range of issues.

Agenda items at the Summit were mostly those relevant to both public and private sectors, such as revitalizing world trade, ensuring foreign direct investment, and nurturing SMEs, which were outlined as trade & FDI at a broader scope.

Finance was one of the key topics, subcategorized as financial services and real economy, coordination of exit strategies, and funding infrastructure, natural resource, and technology and R&D.

Green growth and corporate social responsibility were also taken care of, which were also probed into not only from a business perspective but from governmental viewpoint.

Attending the discussion session that lasted around six hours, the leaders ended the meeting with a joint statement to be presented both to media and the G20 Summit.

The statement is in line with the working group report for which the Business Summit organizing committee has been running up since July.

With respect to the report, of which a preliminary draft was presented to the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors at the October ministerial meeting in Gyeongju, South Korean President said he is heeding keen attention to the results.

More specifically, the President said he will directly report to G20 leaders the results from the Business Summit, hoping for stronger partnership with the private sector through the gathering of business leaders.

Closing the two-day event, British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a special speech at the closing plenary session, hinting at what would be emphasized at the G20 Seoul Summit slated to start later in the day.

According to the prime minister, the G20 Summit should be able to address issues, such as stability, trade, and imbalances, all of which are regarded critical to the success of the event.

As for imbalances, the prime minister pointed to excessive spending in the west and excessive saving in the east as core of the imbalance problem, saying such contradiction led to asset bubbles in the western countries.

Although not going into details, Cameron stayed optimistic over the G20 Summit results, commenting that the G20 is contributing to the global economy.

A press conference followed the closing plenary session, where the joint statement was announced before being submitted to the G20 summit.

"We seek to build on the Seoul Business Summit and its framework for engagement in 2011 and thereafter," said Brabeck- Letmathe, expressing his hopes that the Business Summit could continue in line with the G20 Summit.

The G20 Business Summit was first devised and proposed by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak who once served as CEO of South Korea's No. 1 group before his political career.

Recognizing the importance of adding business viewpoints to administrative policies, he announced to start a business forum on the sidelines of the G20 Seoul Summit, as part of his country's initiatives as chair country.

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