World leaders focus on deficit reduction
Oppose Obama’s strategy at summit
HUNTSVILLE, Ontario — Fresh from a congressional win on a financial overhaul, President Obama pressed world leaders yesterday to join him in backing stronger rules against banking abuses. He made little headway in his call for more stimulus to keep the world economy growing.
Instead, he ran into strong opposition from countries wanting to put deficit reduction first.
“Those countries with budget deficits need to do that, and, as a world, we need to address the imbalances,’’ Britain’s conservative new prime minister, David Cameron, said yesterday after meeting summit host Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister. His government brought forward an emergency budget this week that proposed increased taxes and the toughest cuts in public spending in decades.
As Obama and other leaders sparred over how to keep their economies from slipping back into recession, there was little expectation of economic breakthroughs from sessions here and in Toronto.
Divided on economic remedies, the leaders searched for common ground on other issues, such as confronting nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea, dealing with the AIDS epidemic, and maternal and infant health care in desperately poor countries such as Afghanistan, Mali, and Tanzania— a key project of Harper’s.
Harper announced late yesterday that leaders of the Group of Eight major industrial democracies — the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and Russia — had pledged to contribute $5 billion over the next five years to the initiative.
Today the focus shifts to Toronto, where their number will grow to 20 as they are joined by leaders representing fast-growing developing economies including China, India and Brazil.