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Hi, all.  I take my sig line seriously -- "WE are the media we've been waiting for." -- so here is the latest in what I intend to be a daily series of heavy-on-the-facts diaries on what the President and his administration are doing.  Just click on my username to read previous installments.

The media on export deal : Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?

First, let's look at what The New York Times and other news outlets call a failure and the President calls making the case:  The drawn-out process of negotiating expanded U.S. exports to South Korea.

.... "We need to make sure that over the next several weeks, we are crossing all the t’s, dotting all the i’s, being able to make the case to both the Korean people and the United States population that this is good for both countries," said Mr. Obama, who is in Seoul for the Group of 20 conference. "And if we rush something that then can’t garner popular support, that’s going to be a problem. We think we can make the case, but we want to make sure that that case is airtight."

It was a concession to the fact that Mr. Obama is dealing with a new and unpredictable Congress. White House officials said that the president would rather suffer a one-day loss of face here than bring home a deal that would be unacceptable on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Obama made that clear in a meeting with his advisers after his arrival in Seoul Wednesday evening, after Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative and chief negotiator, told Mr. Obama there were sticking points he had yet to overcome. "I’d rather get this right than get it rushed," Mr. Obama told Mr. Kirk, according to a senior administration official who was present.

The accord is an update of one signed in 2007 by President George W. Bush. It would represent among the biggest such pacts since the North American Free Trade Agreement, and analysts say it is an important underpinning for trade deals the administration is seeking, including a regional agreement with Asia-Pacific nations.

The Bush-negotiated deal has languished in the Democratic Congress. But at the Group of 20 conference in Toronto in June, Mr. Obama very publicly threw his weight behind it, while calling for technical modifications that would be more favorable to American automakers and industrial unions.

In Toronto, Mr. Obama said he wanted the deal "lined up properly" by the time he arrived in Seoul. But after furious negotiations over the past week — including marathon all-night talks Wednesday night — his self-imposed deadline passed. On Thursday Mr. Obama said he expected an agreement ‘in a matter of weeks." ....

President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea said essentially the same thing in a joint press conference with the President:

President Lee:

".... Now, with regards to the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, President Obama and I agreed that we will give my trade minister and the U.S. Trade Representative more time so that they can finalize the technical issues.  And President Obama and I will continue to work together so that we can have a mutually acceptable agreement at the earliest possible date...."

At a closing press conference after the G20, President Obama explained that the larger concern is whether American automakers are being prevented from competing with Korean cars, and reiterated his confidence that an agreement will be forthcoming.

From the Office of the White House Press Secretary:

Q: What led your administration to decide to try and extract further concessions from Korea on imports of American beef?  And did you miscalculate the extent that this appears to be non-negotiable here in Korea?  Do you really think you can convince people living in Korea to buy more American beef?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, beef was not the only issue that was of concern.  In fact, a larger concern had to do with autos.  And the concern is very simple.  We have about 400,000 Korean autos in the United States and a few thousand American cars here in Korea.  And people are concerned about whether the standards, the non-tariff barriers with respect to autos is something that is preventing us from being able to compete with very good products.

Now, I think that we can find a sweet spot that works both for Korea and the United States.  But I repeat, I’m not interested in trade agreements just for the sake of trade agreements.  I want trade agreements that work for the other side, but my main job is to look out for the American people, American workers and American businesses.  And I want to make sure that this deal is balanced.  And so we’re going to keep on working on it.  But I’m confident we can get it done.

I will be watching to see whether The New York Times or anyone else remembers to hail the agreement as a success once it goes through.

The President backs U.S. economic growth, increased hiring, and making our exports more attractive overseas. Countries that have big trade surpluses with us are displeased.

PBSNewsHour | November 10, 2010 –

Fed's $600B Move a 'Chief Irritant' Facing Obama as G-20 Begins


GWEN IFILL: As the president meets today with global leaders in South Korea, we examine currency and trade and the disputes they cause. Judy Woodruff has the story.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Global leaders mustered in Seoul today for what could be a downright contentious meeting of the Group of 20, the world's leading economies -- potentially the chief irritant: the U.S. Federal Reserve's plan to pump $600 billion into the American economy over six months by purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds.

It's designed to drive interest rates down and spur expansion and hiring. It could also lower the value of the dollar, making American exports cheaper.

On Monday, in New Delhi, India, President Obama publicly defended the policy.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The worst thing that could happen to the world economy, not ours -- not just ours, but the entire world's economy -- is if we end up being stuck with no growth or very limited growth. And I think that's the Fed's concern, and that's my concern as well.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But Eurozone nations, plus China, Russia, and emerging economies, accuse the U.S. of currency manipulation, a charge Washington has long leveled against China.

Other critiques focus on possible inflation. But, with that rate now below 2 percent, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has insisted, the real danger is deflation, or falling prices and wages.

There's also friction over trade. New figures today show that, for the first nine months of 2010, the U.S. trade deficit was 40 percent higher than last year. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has proposed linking trade deficits or surpluses to a nation's overall economic output.

That's angered Germany and China, which enjoy massive trade surpluses with the U.S.

From Reuters:

Obama at G20: U.S. needs faster growth to curb deficit

President Barack Obama, in a clear message to other leaders at the G20, said on Thursday that the best way to control the massive U.S. budget deficit was to help the economy grow faster.

"The single most important thing we can do to reduce our debt and our deficits is to grow," Obama said in his first public response to bold early recommendations from a White House debt panel that was quickly attacked by U.S. lawmakers....

U.S. officials say [enacting harsh spending cuts, as Britain and Germany are doing] is exactly the wrong thing to do while a global economic recovery is still fragile, and Obama has stoutly defended a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to print another $600 billion to spur U.S. growth.

The Fed provoked unusually blunt public German complaints that the move would hurt the dollar, and was therefore a disguised form of trade protectionism -- a diagnosis Obama, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, both flatly reject....

"We increase our economic growth by 1 percentage point, and over time that could have as much of an impact as completely eliminating the Bush tax cuts," he said....

Obama, who refused to comment on the report until the final version was on his desk, said the debate had been distorted during the midterm congressional election campaign and called for a measured, careful debate on the issues.

"Before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts. I think we have to be straight with the American people," he said during a press conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the G20 summit....

Obama assured he was prepared to take tough decisions, provided the political costs were evenly shared.

"I set up this commission precisely because I'm prepared to make some tough decisions. I can't make them alone. I'm going to need Congress to work with me," he said. "The only way to make those tough choices historically has been if both parties are willing to move forward together."

See my previous diary for background on the President's promotion of the National Export Initiative during his trip to Asia, a plan to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and help grow our economy out of the ditch:

From newsupload2010 -

The President at G20 Summit in Seoul: World economy needs U.S. growth

THE PRESIDENT: "The most important thing the United States can do for the world economy is to grow, because we continue to be the world’s largest market and a huge engine for all other countries to grow.  The point that we have consistently made is that in a prudent, stable way we want to make sure that we are boosting the growth rates at home as well as abroad."

Any national leader must first and foremost do what is in the interest of his or her country.  President Obama is looking out for American interests, making the case that American recovery is vital to global economic recovery and calling on other countries to make needed changes as well.  As the President wrote in a letter to G20 leaders prior to the meeting,

"....The United States will do its part to restore strong growth, reduce economic imbalances, and calm markets. A strong recovery that creates jobs, income and spending is the most important contribution the United States can make to the global recovery.

"The dollar's strength ultimately rests on the fundamental strength of the U.S. economy. To secure the strong recovery the global economy needs, the United states joined with its G-20 partners to take decisive action to halt the fall in activity caused by the deepest crisis we have experienced in generations.

"The United States moved quickly to repair our financial system and to enact the strongest financial reforms since the 1930s.

"The United States is committed to an ambitious path of fiscal consolidation, consistent with our G-20 commitment to stabilize our public sector debt, as the recovery strengthens.

"We all now recognize that the foundation for a strong and durable recovery will not materialize if American households stop saving and go back to spending based on borrowing. Yet no one country can achieve our joint objective of a strong, sustainable, and balanced recovery on its own.

"Just as the United States must change, so too must those economies that have previously relied on exports to offset weaknesses in their own demand. A rebalancing of the sources of global demand, along with market determination of exchange rates that reverses significant undervaluation, are the best base for the shifts needed to bring about the vigorous and well-balanced recovery that we all want.

"When all nations do their part -- emerging no less than advanced, surplus no less than deficit -- we all benefit from higher growth.

"The action plan that our G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors laid out in Gyeongju offers a new consensus on global economic cooperation. It sets out how unleashing domestic demand in surplus countries can support strong global growth as deficit countries increase savings and repair balance sheets damaged by the crisis....

"The G-20 Leaders can be proud of our work in the area of financial sector reform. Our cooperation holds the promise of banishing the regulatory race to the bottom and opening the way for a genuine race to the top.

"In the United States, the Dodd-Frank legislation will greatly strengthen consumer protections and financial market integrity. The Basel Accord will allow us to raise standards together in a way that, once fully implemented, will enable us to withstand stresses of the magnitude associated with the recent financial crisis without extraordinary government support. The United States will implement the new Basel agreement on the agreed timelines.

"But now is no time to be complacent. The market will not wait for us to finish. They will test us every day. We need to press on and complete our reform agenda, with new steps to ensure no financial institution is too big to fail....

"We need to work together to assure that the momentum of reform does not falter. We should also take great pride in the historic progress that we have made to modernize the world's economic governance institutions over the past 2 years.

"The IMF now has the resources it needs to fight crisis, better tools for preventing future crisis, and more effective governance....

"Finally, we should advance our cooperation to address common global challenges. The Korean presidency has highlighted the key role growth has played in lifting so many out of poverty, especially in emerging Asia, and drawn attention to what we all can do to increase the potential for inclusive growth in low-income countries.

"We should make sustained efforts to carry through with our groundbreaking Pittsburgh commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

"And we should recognize our special responsibilities to prevent corruption and promote a clean business environment.

"This is an ambitious agenda, but the circumstances demand no less. I want to express particular appreciation for the leadership shown by President Lee of Korea in advancing this agenda. Together, we have important work to accomplish in Seoul."

Nothing can take the place of personal diplomacy: The President, President Lee, Chancellor Merkel and President Hu

White House video:

President Obama and President Lee Press Availability

President Obama and President Lee of South Korea host a joint press availability in Seoul. November 11, 2010.

Transcript from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul (President Lee's remarks can be read at the link):

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, President Lee, for your gracious welcome and for what you’ve done to express how much our alliance has meant to you and the people of this nation.  And I can assure that the sentiment you expressed is shared by the American people -- especially by our veterans and service members who’ve served here and have great affection for South Korea and its people.

It is wonderful to be back in Seoul.  We are here for the G20, and I want to thank President Lee and the people of the Republic of Korea for their hospitality, and I want to congratulate you on becoming the first non-G8 country to host a G20 summit.  This is another example of what President Lee calls "Global Korea" -- a Korea that plays an increasingly active and leading role in the world.  It is a role that the United States firmly supports and wants to encourage.

Anytime we meet, it’s an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable alliance between our two countries.  This, however, is a special occasion.  It’s the United States’ Veterans Day.  We celebrate veterans on this day, and this year, as President Lee noted, is also the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.  So I just had a wonderful opportunity at Yongsan not only to pay tribute to our American troops serving here, but to pay tribute to our veterans of the Korean War -- Americans and Koreans.  

Their service, through six decades, is a powerful reminder that security, democracy, and prosperity reinforce each other.  As President Lee has said, security has allowed this country to become a great democracy and one of the economic miracles of our time.  In turn, prosperity that is broadly shared -- within countries and in regions -- makes us safer and more secure.  Advancing our shared prosperity and security was the focus of our meetings today.

As President Lee just noted, we discussed the need to keep moving forward towards a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, which would create jobs and prosperity in both our countries.  We believe that such an agreement, if done right, can be a win-win for our people.  It could be a win for the United States because it would increase the export of American goods by some $10 billion, and billions more in services, supporting more than 70,000 jobs back home.

It could be a win for South Korea, with more access to the American economy, which would support jobs, raise living standards, and offer more choices for Korean consumers.  And it could be a win for the overall economic partnership between our two countries by bringing us closer together, allowing us to benefit from each other’s innovations, and ensuring strong protections for workers’ rights and the environment.

So we have asked our teams to work tirelessly in the coming days and weeks to get this completed, and we are confident that we will do so.  And President Lee in fact asked his team to come to Washington in the near future to continue these discussions.  So I appreciate all the efforts that he’s making on this issue.

To advance our shared security, President Lee and I also discussed our ongoing efforts to strengthen and modernize our alliance, including our joint vision for meeting 21st century challenges.  And although I said it at Yongsan, we can never say it enough -- the United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea.  

I reaffirmed our conviction that in the aftermath of the sinking of the Cheonan, North Korea must address South Korea’s concerns and end its belligerent behavior.  Likewise, North Korea needs to fulfill its obligations to eliminate its nuclear weapons program.  Only by meeting its responsibilities -- and not threatening others -- will North Korea find real security and respect.  

And I want to reiterate that along with our South Korean and international partners, the United States is prepared to provide economic assistance to North Korea and help it integrate into the international community, provided that North Korea meets its obligations.  

Finally, since this is "Global Korea," we discussed the whole range of issues before us.  Heading into the G20, we discussed the need to create an approach where all of our economies -- developed and emerging -- can help achieve global growth that is balanced and sustained.  We discussed common security challenges, including Afghanistan and Iran.  And I told President Lee that we’re very much looking forward to South Korea hosting the next Nuclear Security Summit in two years, which is yet another example of South Korean leadership and another step toward our goal of securing all vulnerable materials around the world.      

So, again, I want to thank my good friend, President Lee, for his hospitality and leadership.  And as we mark the 60th anniversary of the war that turned us into strong allies, I want to salute President Lee and the people of South Korea for the extraordinary progress that you’ve made -- a strong and prosperous democracy that’s an example to others, in this region and around the world.  

Mr. President.

Speaking before our troops at the U.S. Army Garrison Youngsan in Seoul on Veterans Day, President Obama also reiterated U.S. commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea, and summoned North Korea to fulfill its obligations to the international community:

From ITN News:

For the President's full Veterans Day remarks (video and transcript), see my previous diary:

President Obama and Chancellor Merkel at G-20

President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak to the media before a bilateral meeting at the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

Remarks by President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel before Bilateral Meeting

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It is a great pleasure to have a chance to meet with Chancellor Merkel.  Not only do I have great personal admiration for her, but obviously the strong alliance between our two countries is one of the cornerstones of prosperity and peace not just in the transatlantic relationship but in the world.

And we are very proud of the work that we've been doing together -- as NATO allies, we obviously have a lot to talk about with respect to issues like Afghanistan; on economic issues, as G20 members, but also as two of the world’s largest economies, making sure that we can continue with the balanced and sustainable growth that all of us seek.  

So I'm looking forward to a productive meeting not just here with Chancellor Merkel but as part of the G20.  And I'm confident that, as a consequence of the work that we have been doing and will continue to do, that we are going to be able to put the world on a path that ensures strong growth and opportunity for both of our peoples.

So it’s wonderful to see you again.

CHANCELLOR MERKEL:  (As translated.)  Well, I, too, am very glad to have had the opportunity to meet again.  I think we personally haven’t met since the Toronto meetings, so I think it’s a very good thing to yet again demonstrate that we are willing to share responsibility together and to use this meeting here to send a signal, really, a good signal for our global growth.  

We have worked well together and continue to work well together on a number of areas, and I think in very crucial areas. And I think it’s very necessary to work together because only together will we be able to tackle the crucial problems in the world today -- problems and issues such as Afghanistan, the upcoming NATO summit meeting, and also obviously this meeting of the G20.  

So I am confident that here, too, we shall continue to share responsibility and to work well together.

President Obama and President Hu at G-20

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao speak to the media before a bilateral meeting at the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

Remarks by President Obama and President Hu of China Before Bilateral Meeting

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Just to address the press very quickly.  It’s wonderful to see President Hu once again. We were just noting that it’s the seventh time we’ve had an opportunity to meet.  And the U.S.-China relationship I think has become stronger over the last several years.

We’ve been discussing a whole range of not only bilateral issues but world issues.  And as two leading nuclear powers, obviously, we have a special obligation to deal with issues of nuclear proliferation.  As two of the world’s leading economies, we’ve got a special obligation to deal with ensuring strong, balanced and sustainable growth.

I am very much looking forward to hosting President Hu in Washington.  And in the meantime, we have created a structure -- a Strategic and Economic Dialogue, in which our teams have been working on a whole range of issues.  And we’re seeing significant progress.  

So I look forward to this meeting and I'm glad to see you again.

PRESIDENT HU:  (As translated.) The Chinese side stands ready to work with the U.S. side to increase dialogue, exchanges, and cooperation so that we can move forward the China-U.S. relationship on a positive, cooperative and comprehensive track.  

I’d like to thank President Obama for inviting me to visit the United States early next year.  The competent departments in our two countries are making preparations for the visit.  I hope and do believe that the visit will be successful.

This evening the G20 Seoul Summit will be opened.  I believe that with the concerted efforts of all the parties, the summit in Seoul will produce positive outcomes.

And in conclusion: The President's press conference after the G20

From StartLoving4:

President Obama: G20 closing press conference, Part 1

President Obama: G20 closing press conference, Part 2

President Obama: G20 closing press conference, Part 3

A few moments are missing from the end of the third video; to see the news conference in one video, go to C-SPAN:

From the Office of the White House Press Secretary:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Before I discuss the G20, I want to briefly comment on the agreement in Iraq that's taken place on the framework for a new government.  There’s still challenges to overcome, but all indications are that the government will be representative, inclusive, and reflect the will of the Iraqi people who cast their ballots in the last election.

This agreement marks another milestone in the history of modern Iraq.  Once again, Iraqis are showing their determination to unify Iraq and build its future and that those impulses are far stronger than those who want Iraq to descend into sectarian war and terror.

For the last several months, the United States has worked closely with our Iraqi partners to promote a broad-based government -- one whose leaders share a commitment to serving all Iraqis as equal citizens.  Now, Iraq's leaders must finish the job of forming their government so that they can meet the challenges that a diverse coalition will inevitably face.  And going forward, we will support the Iraqi people as they strengthen their democracy, resolve political disputes, resettle those displaced by war, and build ties of commerce and cooperation with the United States, the region and the world....

The actions we took were not always easy or popular.  But they were necessary.  As a result, the global economy is growing again.  Some economies, especially emerging economies, are experiencing strong economic growth.  Trade has risen.  Jobs are being created, as in the United States, where we’ve had 10 consecutive months of private sector job growth and created more than one million private sector jobs this year alone.

In short, we succeeded in putting the global economy back on the path of recovery -- but we also know that the progress has not come nearly fast enough, especially when it comes to my highest priority, which is putting Americans back to work.

Nor have we yet achieved the balanced global growth that we need.  Many advanced economies are growing too slowly and not creating enough jobs.  Some countries are running large surpluses, others running large deficits.  Put simply, we risk slipping back into the old imbalances that contributed to the economic crisis in the first place and which threaten global recovery.

So here in Seoul, the question was whether our nations could work together to keep the global economy growing.  I know the commentary tends to focus on the inevitable areas of disagreement, but the fact is the 20 major economies gathered here are in broad agreement on the way forward -- an agreement that is based on a framework that was put forward by the United States.  And for the first time, we spelled out the actions that are required -- in four key areas -- to achieve the sustained and balanced growth that we need.

First, we agreed to keep focusing on growth.  At home, the United States has been doing our part by making historic investments in infrastructure and education, research and clean energy.  And as a consequence, our economy is growing again -– even as we must do more to ensure that that growth is sustained and translates into jobs for our people.

Here at Seoul, we agreed that growth must be balanced.  Countries with large deficits must work to reduce them, as we are doing in the United States, where we’re on track to cut our deficit in half by 2013, and where I’m prepared to make tough decisions to achieve that goal.  Likewise, countries with large surpluses must shift away from unhealthy dependence on exports and take steps to boost domestic demand.  As I’ve said, going forward, no nation should assume that their path to prosperity is paved simply with exports to the United States.

Second, we agreed that exchange rates must reflect economic realities.  Just as the major advanced economies need to keep working to preserve stability among reserve currencies, emerging economies need to allow for currencies that are market-driven. This is something that I raised yesterday with President Hu of China, and we will continue to closely watch the appreciation of China’s currency.  All of us need to avoid actions that perpetuate imbalances and give countries an undue advantage over one another.

Third, we took further steps to implement financial regulatory reform.  At home, we are implementing the toughest financial reform since the Great Depression, and we are expecting the same sense of urgency, rather than complacency, among our G20 partners.  Here in Seoul we agreed to new standards -- similar to those that we’ve passed in the United States -- to make sure that banks have the capital they need to withstand shocks and not take excessive risks that could lead to another crisis.  And we agreed on an approach to ensure that taxpayers are not asked to pay for future bank failures.

Fourth, we agreed to focus on development as a key driver of economic growth.  The work we did here today builds on a new development policy that I announced in September and recognizes that the most effective means of lifting people out of poverty is to create sustainable economic growth -– growth that will create the markets of the future.  We also agreed on an action plan to combat corruption, which in some countries is the single greatest barrier to economic progress.

Finally, we reaffirmed the need to avoid protectionism that stifles growth and instead pursue trade and investment through open markets.  That’s why, for example, we will continue to work towards a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement in the coming weeks -- not just any agreement, but the best agreement to create jobs both in America and Korea.

And that's why I spoke very frankly to my G20 partners today about the prospects of the Doha Round.  For just as emerging economies have gained a greater voice at international financial institutions -- in part because of the work we've done here at the G20 -- so, too, must they embrace their responsibilities to open markets to the trade and investment that creates jobs in all our countries....

[Q &A with the press follows. In the next excerpt, the President sums up the importance of this and other economic summits, comparing the media’s "search for drama" to the importance of the real work and progress that comes out of the meetings.

Sheryl Stolberg asked the President if he now had a rockier relationship with world leaders "who maybe were just a teensy bit falling all over you when you first arrived on the world stage."  (Yes, a grown-up reporter actually said that.)]

THE PRESIDENT:  That's not how I remember it.  I remember our first G20 you guys writing the exact same stories you're writing now about the exact same issues.  Don't you remember that, Sheryl?  (Laughter.)

The United States, obviously, has a special role to play on the international stage, regardless of who is President.  We are a very large, very wealthy, very powerful country.  We have had outsized influence over world affairs for a century now.  And you are now seeing a situation in which a whole host of other countries are doing very well and coming into their own, and naturally they are going to be more assertive in terms of their interests and ideas.  And that's a healthy thing.  That's why we now have a G20 -- because the old arrangements didn’t fully reflect these new realities.

But let’s just reflect on this summit.  The Framework for Balanced and Sustainable Growth is one that we helped to originate.  The financial reforms and Basel III are based on ideas that came out of our work and reflect many of the principles that are in Dodd-Frank.  The development document that was set forward in this communiqué tracks the development ideas that I put forward several weeks ago in terms of how we can encourage not just aid, but also self-sufficiency.  The corruption initiative that's reflected in the communiqué was prompted by recommendations and suggestions that we made.

So sometimes, I think, naturally there’s an instinct to focus on the disagreements, because otherwise, these summits might not be very exciting -- it’s just a bunch of world leaders sitting around intervening.  And so there’s a search for drama.  But what’s remarkable is that in each of these successive summits we've actually made real progress.

And sometimes the progress -- charting the progress requires you to go back and look at previous summits, starting off with -- let’s say, on financial regulatory -- in Toronto, we said, here’s what we need to do; let’s have this ready by the time we get to Seoul.  It wasn’t real sexy back in Toronto and nobody really wrote about it, but it actually moved the ball forward in terms of a coordinated response to financial regulation.

IMF reform is something that the United States has said we need to get done.  And in previous summits, we said we’re going to find a way to get that done.  And lo and behold, here we are at this summit and we’ve actually achieved what is a huge shift in how power is assigned in these international financial institutions.

So the work that we do here is not always going to seem dramatic.  It’s not always going to be immediately world-changing.  But step by step, what we’re doing is building stronger international mechanisms and institutions that will help stabilize the economy, ensure economic growth and reduce some tensions.

Full transcript:

Outcomes of the G20: The Seoul Action Plan and Funding Innovative SME Finance Models

From the Office of the White House Press Secretary:

G-20: Fact Sheet on Sustainable External Imbalances and Orderly Global Adjustment

G-20 Leaders today launched the Seoul Action Plan, outlining their commitment to pursue the policies needed to deliver a strong, durable recovery that is not weakened by return to past imbalances.  Unleashing domestic demand in surplus countries can support strong global growth as deficit countries increase savings and repair balance sheets damaged by the crisis.  This will lead to a more balanced pattern of global demand – and therefore a more robust, job-rich recovery in the United States....

Specifically, in order to further strengthen their efforts to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth, the G-20 Leaders embraced proposals made by President Obama to:

• Bolster their cooperation to achieve sustainable current account balances. They agreed to deploy all available fiscal, monetary, financial sector, structural, and exchange rate policies to reduce external imbalances across the global economy, treating surplus and deficit economies symmetrically.

• Assess persistently large imbalances against indicative guidelines to be developed by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, with the help of the IMF, to evaluate the root causes of impediments to global adjustment.

• Move towards more market determined exchange rate systems and enhance exchange rate flexibility to reflect economic fundamentals and refrain from competitive devaluations of currencies. The United States and all other G-20 members will do their part to ensure a stable and well-functioning international monetary system....

Read the rest here:

G-20: Fact Sheet on a New Global Framework to Fund Innovative SME Finance Models

Today, President Obama, in partnership with Canada, the Republic of Korea, and the multilateral development banks, launched a global framework for financing the winning proposals of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge and other successful models.  This framework provides a vehicle for interested donors and investors to support the businesses of the poor and near poor in developing countries.  So far, $528 million has been committed to the framework....

More than two thirds of SMEs in developing countries have no access to finance from the formal financial sector.  Yet rapid growth in SMEs is the most powerful engine of job creation in a wide range of economies.  These firms are often too small to attract the interest of commercial banks or investors, but too large to benefit from microfinance products.  To date, few scalable solutions to support this "missing middle" tier of businesses have been found.  This market failure, the large gap between the demand and supply of SME finance, is a serious constraint on efforts to promote strong and sustainable global recovery.

To find the best means to reach these "gap" businesses, G-20 Leaders in Toronto launched the SME Finance Challenge and committed to mobilize funds for implementation of the winning proposals.  The Challenge called on the private sector for ideas on how governments and public institutions can be more effective in catalyzing private SME finance.  The Challenge, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and run by Ashoka Changemakers, is an innovative approach that uses the G-20’s reach and convening power to find the best models around the globe.  Response to the Challenge was very strong with 354 entries received.  President Obama, with President Lee of the Republic of Korea and Prime Minister Harper of Canada, congratulated the 14 winners of the competition at a press conference after the Leaders meeting today.

The United States, Canada, and the Republic of Korea are leading the effort to finance the G-20 SME Finance Challenge winners....

Read the rest here:

Let's wrap up with the latest edition of "West Wing Week" from the White House:

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. On a special edition for the trip to Asia this week, walk step by step with the President as he meets with students, citizens, business leaders, and government officials in India, travels to Indonesia to extend a hand of friendship to the Indonesian people, attends the G-20 in Seoul, South Korea, and much more..."

Update [2010-11-12 17:29:49 by Kat 4 Obama]: I have replaced the partial video of the President's press conference with President Lee with the a White House video of the whole event.

Originally posted to Kat 4 Obama on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:03 AM PST.

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