President Obama departed Friday from a summit of world leaders here with an agreement that major economies would abide by common standards that could, for example, reverse some of China’s export dominance and help put Americans back to work.
But the deal, backed by the United States and adopted by the Group of 20, is not the detailed code of behavior Obama had sought; instead it’s a statement of principle. Its impact won’t be known until a group of finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund complete what could be months of haggling over the specifics. And if the G-20 meeting proved anything, it is the difficulty of wresting meaningful consensus from nations with increasingly divergent economic interests.
“You are seeing a situation where a host of other countries are doing well and coming into their own and they are going to be more assertive in terms of their interests and ideas,” Obama said at a news conference. “The question was whether our countries can work together to keep the global economy growing. The fact is that 20 major economies gathered here are in broad agreement on the way forward.”