Viewpoint: Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill

Image caption,
Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill says the West's fear of protectionism is an exaggerated one

The G20 summit in South Korea is taking place amid fears of currency wars and protectionism.

Jim O'Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, argues that these are largely fuelled by the need of Western politicians to blame others for their current woes.

Mr O'Neill explained his views on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

On protectionism

"Part of the issue here is the West has got to stop looking at the world as being driven by us. I've been in Asia myself much of the last two weeks and many policymakers here call the global credit crisis the North Atlantic crisis - we can't just expect everybody to do things just to satisfy us.

"If you look at the world from a truly global perspective - and one that involves a bit more of an Asian lens - the world is doing pretty well. I was in China, India and Korea and all these economies are booming.

"I really don't think there is a risk of protectionism here. I think it is all being very much exaggerated as a result of some of our internal problems. A desire - partly a confusion - and the need to blame other people."

On US pressure on China to reduce its trade surplus

"Congress is going to definitely remain noisy. I would personally argue that the outcome of the mid-term elections is also something of a relief as Republicans are less focused on these matters than the Democrats were. On the issue of the Chinese currency - the yuan is actually rising. Just this morning it's at another record level and it's been rising virtually daily for the past three weeks.

"The latest trade data showed in the first 10 months of the year the Chinese trade surplus is just about 3% of GDP.

"The underlying trend shows a significant slowdown in the Chinese trade surplus and many countries that are good at exporting - Germany being the best example - are doing very well from it. Right now, German car companies have people on overtime producing cars for export to China. There's a lot of unfocused comment on these things.

"The relation between the Chinese authorities and US economic policymakers is good - it's just a lot of the noise is coming from politicians."

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