G20 seeks to boost growth amid emerging market strains

G20 leaders were expected on Friday to stress the need for sustainable global economic recovery and job creation, amid emerging market worries about the effects of reducing stimulus programmes.

In a meeting overshadowed by the conflict in Syria, the leaders of the world's top developed and emerging nations in their second session returned to their original economic agenda to put the final touches to their communique.

They were expected to underline the importance of a solid economic recovery amid concern about unevenness of global growth, as well as rubber stamp an ambitious drive to clamp down in tax avoidance.

The statement is not expected to give quantitative targets for growth or deficit reduction but the leaders will endorse a "Saint Petersburg action plan" aimed at stimulating growth and creating jobs.

"The priority is growth and jobs. Sustainable growth and decent growth," said European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

"There is a growing consensus about what needs to be done," he said.

"Jobs are the key," added British Prime Minister David Cameron at a session on the labour market. "Jobs are what the citizens want to see," he added.

Host Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the second plenary session of two-day meeting that the priority for the G20 had to be to tackle the most acute problems of youth unemployment and long-term structural unemployment.

"The task of investing in economic growth and the creation of jobs is at the top of the G20 agenda this year," he said.

"We need to ensure the further stable growth of the economy and development. The level of unemployment is still higher than before the crisis and there many problems which are quite acute," Putin said.

Putin told the opening session of the summit on Thursday that while the world's economic problems were less sharp than a year ago when the euro zone debt crisis was at its peak "it is however too early to relax".

He said he shared the concern about the unwinding of stimulus programmes like that of the US Fed which had helped emerging markets to prosper.

"But such a policy of handing out free money, and we understand this well, cannot last forever," Putin said, warning that the tapering would nonetheless affect global economic risks.

The currencies of Brazil and India have been under serious pressure due to expectations that the US Fed will taper its stimulus programme while growth has been slowing even in China's powerhouse economy.

-- Emphasis on growth and jobs --

The US stimulus freed up money that investors then ploughed into emerging markets. But now the risk that this liquidity may recede is triggering major outflows and sharply depreciating emerging market currencies.

The BRICS group of the world's leading emerging markets -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- at a mini summit ahead of the G20 urged the United States on Thursday to show caution in any tapering of its economic stimulus.

The G20 is expected to strike a reassuring note on the issue without singling out an individual country.

French Economy and Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told AFP that compared to previous meetings that were dominated by the eurozone crisis "today the emphasis is being placed on growth and employment".

He said that "what the G20 wants to create here are the conditions for a consistent recovery," adding that the meeting had been more consensual than in the past.

In their final communique, the G20 leaders are expected to back a drive drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to impose uniform rules to crack down on tax avoidance by big multinationals and help fill depleted state coffers.

Ahead of the meeting, the OECD urged the G20 leaders meeting in Saint Petersburg to seize a "once in a century" chance to clamp down on tax cheats by agreeing on an automatic exchange of banking data.