Initiated by Finance Ministers in 1999, the Group of 20 (G20) met at Leaders’ level for the first time in November 2008 in Washington, D.C., at the peak of the global financial crisis. This “upgrading” and quasi-revival of the Group demonstrated G20 Leaders’ resolve to cope with the most pressing challenges of the economic and financial crisis that escalated in the second half of 2008.
Leaders set out a framework for preventing future financial crises, while securing sustainable and balanced global growth and reforming the architecture of global economic governance. They agreed on closer macroeconomic co-operation to restore growth and avoid negative spillovers. In particular, the Action Plan to Implement Principles for Reform annexed to the Declaration of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy set forth five principles for their reform: strengthening transparency and accountability; enhancing sound regulation; promoting integrity in financial markets; reinforcing international cooperation; reforming international financial institutions.
They also underscored “the critical importance of rejecting protectionism” and committed to “refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions or implementing WTO inconsistent measures to stimulate exports” within the next 12 months (a standstill that was subsequently extended, see trade and investment topic page).
G20 Leaders requested that additional recommendations be formulated by Finance Ministers, drawing upon recommendations of existing bodies (e.g. the Financial Stability Forum, subsequently transformed into the Financial Stability Board – in April 2009 in London) and independent experts. Thus, they gave a first shape to the structure currently used, based on inputs from working groups, Sherpas, and Ministers, in preparation of the final G20 Leaders Summit.
Although the OECD did not yet participate formally in the Washington G20 Summit, G20 Leaders encouraged national tax authorities to draw upon OECD work aimed at promoting international exchange of tax information and transparency.