The African Union (AU) is set to join the G-20 as negotiators agreed on clearing its membership, according to sources privy to the discussions at the Sherpa meeting at a resort on the outskirts of Delhi.
This will mean the 55-member AU will join the European Union as the only two regional bodies in the G-20. While it still unclear whether the G-20 will be renamed as the “G-21” after the induction of the AU, Indian officials said the announcement would help “leave a lasting imprint” of the work the Indian Presidency has done in bringing in the Global South’s ambitions to the economic grouping.
As talks paused on Thursday afternoon, Sherpas, who are the personal representatives of each of the G-20 leaders, will move their discussions to the Delhi G-20 venue next, but negotiations will continue until there is agreement for a draft declaration, the sources said.
No G-20 summit has ended without a joint statement, and Indian officials who hope to avoid such an outcome say they hope to fill the gaps by the time the summit ends on Sunday afternoon. Much of the effort is on resolving the “geopolitical issue” paragraph, one of two paragraphs that were agreed to in the Bali G-20 document last year, that Russia and China have opposed in the Indian draft. The most significant differences are over “Paragraph 6” of the latest draft, that seeks to quote United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but there remain others, the sources said.
For the past month, Sherpas have been burning the midnight oil, with negotiations on a draft declaration continuing until the early hours of the morning. Even on Thursday, the latest version of the draft was circulated close to 3 am. The sources said that while “much ground has been covered” in the last few days, differences remain in the language over climate financing and debt restructuring as well. In addition, the developing countries continue to push back on deadlines to phase out fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions. In particular, China’s delegation has been opposed to many of the wordings and initiatives proposed by India, with more than one diplomat present at the meeting speaking about the constant confrontations going “back and forth” between the Indian and Chinese delegates.
Membership of the AU, however, appears to be one point of agreement, and both Russian and Chinese officials on Thursday backed the move even as they appeared to claim credit for it.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters “China is the first country that explicitly expressed its support for the African Union’s membership in the G-20”. “At the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue last month, President Xi Jinping again stressed that China will work actively to support the AU’s full membership in the G-20. China and the AU are important partners in building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future and safeguarding international fairness and justice. China supports the AU in playing a bigger role in global governance,” Ms. Mao said. Russia’s G-20 Sherpa was also quoted as saying by Russian media that Moscow was among the first to support the AU’s membership.