the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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President Obama at the G-20 in Seoul: "Focusing on Growth"

The President goes over the progress made at the G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

For those wondering the amount of work that goes into a G-20 Summit, perusing the fact sheets below will give some idea of how much gets packed into these short events when leaders around the world come together.

The President went over some of the higlights in his opening remarks at a press conference in Seoul:

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.