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JUST like every other family, the G20 has its tiffs.
But, as any Sopranos fan will tell you, some families are more powerful than others.
The global summit – being held in the beachside resort city of Los Cabos – is under intense pressure to drive action on the debt crisis in Europe and the United States.
But as the first day of the two-day summit drew to an end, leaders and officials were talking down the prospect of anything more than a statement on future directions or a “roadmap”.
What appears likely is a “Los Cabos Action Plan”, similar to that issued after the Cannes summit in 2011, in which individual countries made broad commitments to tackle issues.
There’s a sharp divide between the Europeans, the British, the Americans and the rest.
British PM David Cameron is holding little back in his criticism of the eurozone governments, raising fears of the region slipping into “perpetual stagnation or break up”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been a little more cautious but still urging eurozone nations to cut their deficits and do what they can to stimulate growth and jobs – not an easy balancing act especially for countries like Greece.
China, India and Indonesia are frustrated that some of their biggest export markets can’t get it together.
US President Barack Obama stated the obvious when he said the world was “very concerned” about the slowing of growth and now was the time to stabilise the world financial system.
The attacks are starting to bite, but may not necessarily lead to action.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy’s Mario Monti and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso were on the defensive as they entered the summit.
Dr Merkel pointed the finger at Greece, as it negotiated a new coalition government after Sunday’s elections, saying there would be no “loosening” of the commitments to economic reform.
Mr Barroso was blunt about the criticism: “Frankly, we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy.” Mr Monti argued the EU was not the “only source of the problem”.
“The crisis had its origins in imbalances in other countries, including the US,” he said.
What looks more certain in terms of a eurozone solution are some fine words followed by a deferral to coming talks between European leaders and finance ministers. Trade issues, which are also a key part of the regular summits, are also being talked down.
While US President Barack Obama attempted to inject some confidence into this policy area by inviting Mexico to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement talks – which could lead to one of the world’s biggest free trade zones being formed – Cameron was gloomy about the rise of protectionism.
He said that since the previous G20 member nations had put in place 124 new trade restrictions and no progress has been made on the Doha trade round.
As expectations of the G20 fall, national leaders could find themselves looking to other forums, regional groups and bilateral deals for better ways to progress jobs and growth. The Group of 20 accounts for more than 80 per cent of world trade and production and two-thirds of the world population.