What is G-20?
The group of 20(G-20) is an international forum for members of 19 countries and the European Union to indulge in discussions of international co-operation, decision making, strategic planning and implementation. The members of G-20 Summit are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the USA and the European Union. The 19 member countries and European Union along with the invited guests and Central Bank governors met annually to decide and discuss on matters of economic and financial relevance. The prime concern was focused on strengthening the global economy, reformation of international financial institutions, regulation of financial and monetary institutions and mutual co-operation. Over these years, the Summit has also become more inclusive and accommodating to issues of current debate and concerns like climate change, environmental protection etc.
The G-20 Summit was started in the year 1999 as a response to the Asian Financial Crisis. The AFC started in the year 1997 as a result of currency devaluation in Thailand whereby the issues of severe currency depreciation, falling stock prices, rising GDP-Debt ratio and bankruptcy led to a case of ‘Financial Contagion’. The resultant wave of the crisis had its deep effect in many of the Asian countries, especially in countries like Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore. Further, it had its spill overs in the form of stagnant economic growth and low consumption. The first meeting of G-20 was held in the year 2008 and continued to be held until today. The role of G-20 in reviving the global economy after the 2008 financial crisis was commendable as the early phase of fiscal inclusion, mutual co-operation and regulated policy initiated the acts of recovery. With the G-20 countries alone accounting for nearly 90% of the Gross World Product, 80% of World Trade, two-thirds of the world population and at least half of the world land area, the G-20 members have greater upper hand in bringing in effective policies for a globally sustained economy and international co-operation.
G-20 Summit 2019
The G-20 Summit 2019 was held in Osaka, Japan from June 28th, Friday to June 29th, Saturday. The 2019 Summit has focused on eight broader themes of global economy, trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, employment, women’s empowerment, development and health. However, the Summit has its main agenda and focus of forward action on the concept of ‘Human Society 5.0’. The early reports on the Summit has given hint on the possible alignment of discussions in this regard with USA and Japan at the forefront, whilst indulging in collaborative deliberation and initiation. The G-20 Summit from the Indian perspective could be viewed as the right platform for negotiating the recent tensions on trade and tariff wars as well as on the topics of Indian priority. Yet, the meeting is not free from a pessimistic front as the certain new agenda of the Summit is certainly up for debate, especially when we analyse the positioning of India as a developing country along with the other economies. With the total action plan of the Indian government focused on foreign agenda, the G-20 Summit falls second in line after the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meeting and leads ahead in establishing international commitments.
Expectations and possibilities
The G-20 Summit 2019 has given much attention to the idea of a Human Society 5.0, a human-centered world of economic and social advancement through the integration of cyber and physical space. As an outcome of this objective, industrialised countries like USA, Australia, Japan and others are putting forward the concept of data localisation. Japan has introduced the scheme of Data Free Flow with Trust(DFFT) that facilitates free flow, accessibility and storage of data from a global perspective. Though this was widely demanded by the developed economies, India and other developing economies oppose this demand by pointing out strategic, defence and privacy concerns. India raised concern over DFFT as an intervention over the personal information of the citizens along with strong data and cloud computing issues.
Undertaking strong measures on curbing black money and terror financing were the other key focus areas of Indian counterpart in G-20 Summit. With border issues becoming quite restless and terror financing emerging as a potent backslap, it is no surprise that we forged ahead with the same in the Summit. Apart from the objectivity perspective, what demands key attention and follow up is the various set of bilateral and multilateral meetings that will side-line the Summit. The detailed analysis of the outcomes could give us better understanding on the topics discussed and actions initiated.
India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was expected to pitch tough measures regarding the return of economic fugitives to the native countries and black money issues; undertake stringent measures on terror financing, regulation of WTO and trade reforms and deliberate over the idea of data localisation. In addition to this, various multilateral and bilateral meetings are charted to be side-lined along with the Summit. The first area of Indian interest is on the need for an effective and comprehensive action force to deal with the menace of economic fugitive offenders. India in the past few years has witnessed the two infamous case of economic fugitive offence that acclaimed both national and international attention and criticism. In this regard, India has introduced nine-point action plan for sharing, mutual co-operation and coordinated action in enforcing strict laws on returning economic fugitives to the native country. To summarize, the action consisted of early return, denial of entry, repatriation of the proceedings of crimes and other legal enforcements. The Financial Action Task Force(FATF) have better takings in this field to act upon.
International takeaways of G-20 Summit
Before going into the details of Indian stance, the global perspective and overall progress is worth mentioning. The G-20 Summit 2019 focused on two major issues of continued trade tensions and climate change and environmental protection. The Summit, originally intended for maintaining financial stability in world economy, had talks over the trade tensions between USA and China. Donald Trump, the US President has taken a conciliatory approach throughout the G-20 Summit. The US stated that they will not impose any more additional tariff on China and at the same time expressed its final word in not lifting up the already imposed tariff of $300 billion Chinese goods. They also stated their interest and plans for an another round of negotiation with China. The US was also peaceful in its decision not to penalise Turkey for purchasing weapons and mercenaries from Russia. The US stood firm, however, in its decision of withdrawing from Paris Summit stating it to be disadvantageous for American workers and industries. Overall, the Trump administration pledged their contribution for economic growth, financial stability as well as for environmental protection.
With respect to the field of climate change, the Summit acknowledged the work and necessity of International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sources (IPBES). The issues of global climate change and associated events were discussed and special attention was diverted for marine pollution like plastic littering etc. The decisions of Paris Summit were acknowledged to continue as the main agenda or resolution in this topic.
The G-20 Summit also evolved as a platform to discuss the rivalry between USA and North Korea and ended with the US agreeing to hold a third phase meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong Un. In a symbolic diplomatic spectacle after G-20, Donald Trump became the first American President to step foot in North Korea.
Indian takeaways of G-20
India pitched on the topic of returning economic fugitive offenders to their national domicile. The international platform was well utilized for attracting international attention and global co-operation in dealing with economic offenders. The G-20 meeting preceded with counties like Japan, USA and other industrialised nations demanding for Data Free Flow Trust(DFFT) and data mobilization. India stayed away and didn’t join the G-20 declaration on the topic of digital economy. Indian spokesperson Piyush Goyal responded to a news reporter in this regard, stating that the reasons had been conveyed to the Japan Prime Minister and that India always supports digital innovation and progress, while staying confined to its confidential take on digital economy.
The other key areas of Indian interest included the issues of climate change and need for environmental protection, measures against terror financing, agriculture, shifts in the issues of social security as well as the need of providing provisions for the ageing population.
Bilateral and Trilateral meetings
The G-20 Summit 2019 was a platform for various bilateral and trilateral meetings. India in its bilateral meeting with Indonesia, took on an ambitious project of setting the bilateral trade target of US$50 billion to be achieved by 2025. The two leaders discussed on matters of boosting the trade and investment relation and enhancement of the bilateral ties. The key areas of discussion included achieving economic growth, strengthening of trade ties and defence and maritime relations.
The JAI(Japan-America-India) trilateral meeting was another meetup that side-lined the G-20 Summit 2019. In the second JAI meeting, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, American President Donald Trump and Japanese premier Shinzo Abe discussed extensively on issues of Indo-Pacific region and possible actions of undertaking a stable, open and rule based Indo-Pacific region. The meeting concluded by countries agreeing to work on maintaining connectivity, infrastructural growth, ensuring security and peace and working towards the goal of a rule based Indo-Pacific region.
The Indian bilateral meeting with US also ended up in a positive note with the discussions largely on issues of global concern like Iran, 5G and data localisation issues, defence and trade. Meanwhile, India met the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and discussed counter terrorism mechanisms, energy security and investment opportunities. The Saudi Arabian counterpart had made his visit to India last year and the G-20 served as a platform for the countries to conclude on remarks of establishing strategic partnership.
India also met with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to synergise India’s Act East Policy with South Korea’s New Southern Policy and to focus on the Indo-German relationship on topics of artificial intelligence and cyber security respectively.
To sum up, the G-20 Summit 2019 held in Osaka, Japan served as an effective platform to discuss matters of economic and financial stability, mutual co-operation and trade especially in the context of global economic slowdown. The conciliatory approach of USA towards trade and tariff war was a welcoming approach. India, meanwhile, stands firm in its policy of return of economic offenders, measures against terror financing and trade. Further, the various bilateral and trilateral meetings opened up new strategic dimensions of co-operation and partnership.
Picture Courtesy- Vestnik Kavakaza