12/07/2011 06:04 EST | Updated 02/06/2012 05:12 EST

Jim Flaherty: No Eurozone Bailout From G20


OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is pouring cold water over a report that the group of countries known as the G20 is attempting to drum up US$600 billion in financial support to help out the heavily indebted eurozone.

Canada opposes the idea of a co-ordinated G20 action, Flaherty said, because many members of the group are actually poorer than the European countries they would be asked to bail out.

"These are relatively rich countries in the world," he said of Europe, "And many of the countries in the G20 have high levels of poverty."

While the Group of 20 includes the world's biggest economies, it also represents emerging nations such as Mexico, Argentina, India and South Africa.

Flaherty said Wednesday he believes Europe is rich enough to address the sovereign debt issues facing the 17-country group that uses the euro currency.

Among the eurozone countries is Germany, which has the region's largest economy, and historically has taken a leading role in the eurozone along with France.

German and French officials lowered expectations Wednesday for a deal to save the euro at a summit of European leaders on Thursday and Friday.

A Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday that said key members of the G20 such as the United States, China and Japan would contribute to a fund for Europe that would be administered through the International Monetary Fund.

An IMF spokesman reacted quickly, saying no discussions had been held with the Washington-based organization, which was set up by member countries to safeguard the world's financial system. One of its roles is lender of last resort.

Canada is a long-standing member of the IMF and a co-creator of the G20 but with less clout than the U.S., China or Japan -- which have the world's three largest economies.

Flaherty told reporters there had been discussions ongoing for weeks with the G20, however, saying there were "some nuances to the positions of some countries."

"But I can assure there has been no commitment by the G20 to any specific resource and plan."

He added that individual countries can go ahead on their own if they choose.

Canada favours increasing the resources in the IMF, but so those funds can be used to help poor countries impacted by the European crisis, the minister said.

Flaherty cautioned that the problems of Europe are a serious risk for the world, including Canada, and need to be addressed.

He said a new crisis could impact even Canada's financial system.

"If we have a serious crisis in Europe and the European banking system, that will effect the American banking system which in turn will affect our banking system," he said.

But Flaherty cautioned the impact on Canada needs to be put in context. "The exposure of the Canadian banks, which we've looked at very closely, is controllable and limited," he said.