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Bern attacks legitimacy of G20 group

Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz has criticised the G20 group of major economies and called into question its legitimacy.

This content was published on September 24, 2009 - 21:14

Merz, who is this year's Swiss president, was speaking in New York at the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations.

While repeating the Swiss view that the UN itself has to reform, he said that the "exchange between the UN and other fora such as the G20", meeting in Pittsburgh, had to be strengthened.

Merz noted that the G20 had taken over a role in discussing "important global issues".

"This development must not take place at the expense of other nations or global institutions such as the UN.

"The G20 lacks legitimacy, basic considerations of due process are absent in the sanctions procedures. The members of the G20 themselves are not subject to the same scrutiny. Switzerland advocates a level playing field and a much better consultation among non-members of the G20."

Switzerland was among other countries attacked by the G20 meeting in London in April for being tax havens. Bern has since renegotiated double tax agreements with about a dozen countries to be taken off a so-called grey list of nations identified by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Swiss voters will have the final say on these measures.

In his New York speech, Merz also pointed out that the present financial crisis had been used by some as an opportunity to question the market economy and globalisation.

"I do not dispute that there is a need for reform. The failures and abuses have been too big to ignore. But we should remind ourselves that thanks to a liberal economic order and open markets many people in this world have been lifted out of poverty.

"In this regard, we share the concern of many who think of the growing trend towards protectionism as a recipe for disaster. Therefore, my country welcomes that the UN conference on the financial and economic crisis called for the swift conclusion of the Doha Round [of trade liberalisation measures].

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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