The press center at the G20 talks in Gyeongju is almost full. There are hundreds of reporters sitting along thin black trestle tables, each one typing away furiously.
I don’t know what they are writing. The summit does not begin until later today.
When the talks do begin, they are going to be in a different hotel – the bright pink Hilton down the road. No reporters are allowed near.
I tried to get into the lobby but was hustled out by the Korean police, who have blanketed the entire area. A small pool of Reuters, Bloomberg and AFP will be allowed to watch the finance ministers arrive for the summit, but will then have to leave.
The G20 proved its usefulness during the financial crisis, when the voices of China, India and Brazil were vital in stabilizing the world economy.
But now the crisis is over, the jumble of countries involved, lining up established economies such as Germany, France and Japan alongside Indonesia, Turkey and Argentina, makes any kind of decision-making near impossible. Perhaps a G7 plus one or two would be a better, if less noble, idea.
Already the US has tried to bully the agenda, with Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, raising the idea of "numerical" quotas for global trade balances, an idea that was immediately rebuffed by India and will probably be thrown out by all the other emerging economies.
On the issue of currencies, there is likely to be little agreement other than the usual platitudes about a gradual shift to a market-based system by the likes of China.
I’ve covered dozens of these multilateral forums now, each from the windowless bowels of a press center somewhere, emerging only to try to snatch interviews with grey-suited leaders as they pass in and out of their meetings.
I’ve never seen one deliver a meaningful result. But since each media outlet has paid for its reporters to attend, and needs to justify the budget it has spent, there will be reams of coverage. Just treat it with a pinch of salt.
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