ST. PETERSBURG (09/02/2013) - This week's G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia is the first time since the "great recession" that world leaders are dealing with an economy that is stable enough to allow them to engage in talks that could actually lead to reform.
The G20 agenda is wide-ranging, but our local lawmakers have their own ideas of what will have the biggest impact.
"[The U.S.] has to be very direct in confronting their counterparts in other countries where there's cheating and manipulation and an effort to undermine our workers," said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).
Here are the goals for this year's G20 Summit: growth through quality jobs and investment, trust and transparency, and effective regulation.
Casey says the U.S. must participate in a real way, pushing hard on the issues that impact our workers and the economy.
"When China cheats on currency, we lose Pennsylvania jobs. It's really that direct and that immediate," said Casey.
Casey says the U.S. needs to learn from our mistakes. He points to the steel, garment, and tool and die industries – entire plants and generations of workers that were wiped out but unfair foreign competition.
"We don't have, in my judgment, a real United States trade policy," said Casey. "And if you don't have a policy, you go into trade discussions and agreements at a disadvantage."
G20 nations make up two-thirds of the world's population and 80-percent of international global trade. But the group of leaders is thought to be small enough to still be an effective decision-making body.
Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) says out of control spending at home is getting in the way of our success overseas, and he's asking President Obama to be more forceful in his dealings with foreign leaders at the G20.
"We are the leaders of the free world," said Kelly. "Our relevance has been lowered to down to a point where we get snubbed by people like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, the Chinese, and other people who just really don't seem to care about the rule of law."
Our lawmakers say our strength as a nation lies in our workforce and ability to innovate. They're hopeful with a better trade policy and aggressive enforcement of international regulations that our economy will change.
And it all starts at the G20, this week in St. Petersburg.
"We're really in the best position we've ever been in – not just to participate in a global economy, but to dominate a world economy," said Kelly.
President Obama will attend the G20, despite tensions with Russia and amid an escalating situation in Syria. The White House says the president will remain focused on the types of discussions our local lawmakers say are imperative our economy in Northwest Pennsylvania on track.