Representing 80 percent of global gross domestic product, the Group of 20 leaders meet in Mexico today in uncertain times. The leaders have promised to prioritize growth and job creation as the world economy faces one of its worst crises in recent times.
The economic turmoil in Europe is far from over despite the elections in Greece. The G-20 leaders are demanding progress toward lasting solutions from Europe for its debt crisis, which still casts a long shadow over the global economy.
World Bank president Robert Zoellick framed it best when he said that this was “an absolutely critical time” and warned Europe not to squander this opportunity for decisive action.
Escalating violence in Syria and the near-collapse of a United Nations-brokered peace plan also will also be in focus when US President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit. With Iraq already mired in violence, the Middle East can ill afford another conflict in a highly volatile region.
With so much uncertainty, growth economies such as Indonesia are also starting to feel the impact of the global economic slowdown. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned of a slowdown in exports and called on private business groups to work with the government to find solutions.
These are not normal times. Indonesia cannot afford to adopt a business-as-usual approach and must push ahead with critical infrastructure investments and bureaucratic reforms, to ensure that the economy does not suffer from global uncertainty.
A solution, for example, must be immediately found for the congestion at Merak Port, where truck drivers have been waiting for days to cross over to Sumatra. It is clear that the port urgently needs to be expanded while the Sunda Straits Bridge project is being reviewed.