Russia: G20 Wants Pact Relaxed

Some Group of 20 countries are seeking a relaxation of commitments they made at a summit last November in response to the financial crisis, a Finance Ministry official said Wednesday.

G20 leaders pledged at a crisis summit on Nov. 15 to limit the economic damage from the financial crisis and to resist any temptation to resort to protectionism.

The commitments included reform of financial regulation and supervision, pledges to keep the IMF sufficiently funded to help troubled countries and a pledge to refrain from raising new barriers to trade and investment for a year.

Some of the issues are posing problems as the economic slowdown deepens and politicians focus on defending their own economies. Russia introduced levies on imports of used foreign cars this year, while the European Union has decided to offer subsidies to dairy products exported by its members.

"There is discussion over how feasible it is for all the countries to fulfill the Washington obligations and whether it makes sense to refer to the worsening of the situation and to say, Sorry guys, in the near future we are simply not able to [do so],'" Andrei Bokarev, deputy head of the Finance Ministry's department for international financial relations, told a press briefing.

In a sign that the economic slowdown could also lead to countries tightening their purse strings, Bokarev said Russia would stick by current G8 commitments on issues such as health care and energy in developing countries, but any new schemes would now be decided on a case-by-case basis.