G-20: Looking Beyond Regional Issues And Challenges – Analysis


On the occasion of 14th summit of G-20 countries, Heads of Government and State met in Osaka, Japan on 28-29 June 2019 to make united efforts to address major global economic challenges and reiterated their efforts to work together to foster global economic growth, while harnessing the power of technological innovation, in particular digitalization, and its application for the benefit of all.

In their Joint Communique issued at the end of the summit they expressed their determination to strive to create a virtuous cycle of growth by addressing inequalities and realise a society where all individuals can make use of their full potential. ‘We are resolved to build a society capable of seizing opportunities, and tackling economic, social and environmental challenges, presented today and in the future,’ including those of demographic change.

They also added further that they would continue their efforts to foster development and address other global challenges to pave the way toward an inclusive and sustainable world, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Formative background

Founded in 1999 with the aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, the G-20 has expanded its agenda since 2008 and heads of government or heads of state, as well as finance ministers and foreign ministers, have periodically conferred at summits ever since. It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

In addition to the EU, the 19 participant countries include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Republic of South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America. Besides, leaders of invited guest countries and representatives of invited guest international organizations also participate in the summit. The organisation represents more than 80% of the global GDP, and it has made continuous efforts toward achieving robust global economic growth.

As globalization progresses and various issues become more intricately intertwined, the recent G20 summits have focused not only on macro major emerging market but also on the international financial system.

Ever-expanding agenda

The initial G20 agenda, as conceived by US, Canadian and German policy makers, was very much focused on the sustainability of sovereign debt and global financial stability, in an inclusive format that would bring in the largest developing economies as equal partners.

During a summit in November 2008, the leaders of the group pledged to contribute trillions to international finance organizations, including the World Bank and IMF, mainly for reestablishing the global financial system. Since inception, the recurring themes covered by G20 summit participants have related in priority to global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation. Especially after the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, more “issues of global significance”were added to the G20 agenda: migration, digitisation, employment, healthcare, the economic empowerment of women and development aid are new areas of its policy coverage.

To make it more effective, the organisation has also insisted on the interconnected nature of the issues facing G20 nations, be they purely financial or developmental, and the need to reach effective, cross-cutting policy measures.

Under the structural scheme the Summit of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors prepare the leaders’ summit and implement their decisions. It was created as a response both to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and to a growing recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. On scheduled time the G20 Summits of heads of state or government were also held regularly.

In addition, it organised a number of other ministerial-level G20 meetings since 2010. Agriculture ministerial meetings were conducted in 2011 and 2012; meetings of foreign ministers were held in 2012 and 2013; trade ministers met in 2012 and 2014, and employment ministerial meetings have taken place annually since 2010amd the last meeting of G-20 was hosted by Argentina.

Themes of recent summits

In line, the thirteenth meeting of G-20, which was held on 30 November and 1 December 2018 in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a 9-point agenda to G-20 Member Nations, calling for strong and active cooperation to deal with fugitive economic offenders.

The agenda was presented during the second session of the G20 Summit 2018 on International Trade, International Financial and Tax Systems. The G20 Summit 2018 concluded on December 1, 2018 in which nineteen leaders of the world’s biggest economies and representatives of the European Union held a meeting together as part of the G20 summit. It was the first G20 summit to be hosted in South America. The theme of this summit was ‘Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development.

In a joint declaration, the leaders of G20 nations, except for US President Donald Trump, reaffirmed their commitment to fight climate change by upholding the Paris Agreement. The United States reiterated its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirmed its strong commitment to economic growth, energy access and security, while protecting the environment.

In the fight against the climate change, the G20 leaders expressed their strong support for the countries that are signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement, to implement their commitments set out in their nationally determined contributions. They took note of UN scientists’ call for a more ambitious target of reducing the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Prime Minister Narendra Modi represented India at the Summit and met US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Argentina President Mauricio Macri, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the sidelines of the summit.

On the sidelines of the G-20 summit, the Prime Minister met Chinese President Xi Jinping and discussed how to strengthen bilateral ties between the two neighbours. He also met Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia who offered to supply oil to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held their first trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit to discuss major issues of global and multilateral interests.

All three leaders agreed on free, open, inclusive and rules-based order to maintain peace and prosperity in Indo-Pacific region. The three leaders exchanged views on expanding mutual cooperation in international forums, and to encourage greater interaction among the three countries. They agreed on the importance of reform and strengthening of multilateral institutions which have benefitted the world, including the United Nations, WTO, and well-established and new financial institutions. They exchanged views on international political, security and global economic-financial issues, as well as challenges facing sustainable development. They reaffirmed full support for the rules-based multilateral trading system, as embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to ensure transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive international trade. 

*Dr. Rajkumar Singh, Professor and Head, University Dept. of Political Science, BNMU,West Campus, P.G.Centre, Saharsa, Bihar, India.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is a University Professor for the last 20 years and presently Head of the P.G. Department of Political Science, B.N. Mandal University, West Campus, P.G. Centre,Saharsa (Bihar), India. In addition to 17 books published so far there are over 250 articles to his credit out of which above 100 are from 30 foreign countries. His recent published books include Transformation of modern Pak Society-Foundation, Militarisation, Islamisation and Terrorism (Germany, 2017),and New Surroundings of Pak Nuclear Bomb (Mauritius, 2018). He is an authority on Indian Politics and its relations with foreign countries.

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