Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | 50 days to G20 Summit | Is there still hope of a joint communique?

50 days to G20 Summit | Is there still hope of a joint communique?

In this episode of Worldview, we discuss what hopes are there of a joint communique at the G-20 Summit and how much does it matter to India?

July 21, 2023 08:05 pm | Updated 08:06 pm IST

This week marked an important moment in the G20 Presidency of India-

-With a crucial Sherpa Meeting held in Hampi and the last Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governers meeting in Gandhinagar being held back to back. Remember these are the two twin tracks of any G20 Presidency: The Sherpa track and the Finance Track.

-The two tracks also preside over about 13 working groups between them, and then finally present a Leader’s Declaration that would be put up for adoption on September 9-10, when the Summit is held in Delhi.

Some Quick facts about the G20-

- 19 Countries and the EU form the G20 grouping set up in 1999- since 2008 the Leaders of G20 nations have been meeting

- Members include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU). Spain is a permanent invitee.

- G20 countries represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about 66% of the world population

- India’s Presidency began in November 2022, the Summit will be held two months early in September 2023- understood to be due to weather and pollution considerations in Delhi

- Apart from the G20 members and international organisations like UN, WHO, World Bank, AU, ASEAN and others, India has 9 special invitees including: Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and UAE.

So let’s speak about some of the challenges ahead of the Government, and the G20 Secretariat ahead of the final summit in September- as became evident this week:

1. No consensus on a Joint Statement/Leader’s Declaration/ Joint Communique- mainly on language on the Ukraine war. If there is no joint communique on September 10th, that will be the first in the G20’s history.

At the end of the 3rd Finance Ministers and Central bank Governors, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said both Russia and China did not sign on to those paras, that had been imported from last year’s Bali statement, and hence only a Chair’s Statement could be issued

“The Chair’s Statement is because we still don’t have a common language on the Russia-Ukraine war. And our position has been since February that we have derived the statement from Bali, the leaders statement at the Summit. The February Bengaluru statement is the feeder into this. We don’t have the mandate to change that. It must be left to the leaders when they meet in September to take the call on that,” the Finance Minister said.

However, there was a shift- unlike in the March Foreign Minister’s Meeting, where Russia and China had the same objections to the para (WV #98), in this Finance Minister’s meeting they have different objections.

- China stated that the G20 FMCBG meeting is not the right forum to discuss geopolitical issues.

- Russia dissociated itself from the status of this document as a common outcome because of references in paragraphs 2, 3 and 5- which related to the Ukraine war

Meanwhile, with the possibility of no communique, the Indian Sherpa, Amitabh Kant said this about the what it would mean

“The Russia Ukraine war is not our creation- of developing and emerging countries. Our priority is developing issues – our priority is inclusive growth. …That maybe a priority for somebody else, that is why we will discuss it to the end. And whether there is a resolution or not, that is nothing to reflect.”

2. Attendance of all leaders:

The success of a G20 summit often depends on being able to bring all the leaders under one roof and have them hammer out a consensus. During this year’s summit, India is hopeful of having all the leaders as it would show not only global unity on India’s presidency, but also for India to project itself as “balancing power”. In particular the presence/absence of Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi will not only indicate how far India has been able to bring all sides on board, but may also decide the attendance of G-7 leaders at the same functions and sessions.

Here’s what the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchsaid this week.

“Invitations have gone out to all the G20 members as well as the invitee countries, the international organizations and the invitee international organizations. This is a physical summit and we would hope that all the invitees are able to participate in person for the summit. There have been confirmations, I understand, but again, I don’t have any specific response on any particular leader - yes or no - and I don’t think that it would be fair to look at it that way. But yes, we’re looking forward to welcoming the leaders here for our G20 Leaders’ Summit, New Delhi Leaders’ Summit in September. “

3. Induction of African Union as a member:

India says it has substantial support for its move to bring in the African Union chair- a grouping made up of 55 countries. While the AU is a regular invitee to the G20- this would make it a member- with the ability to shape G20 outcomes. This is seen as a part of India’s promotion of the voice of the Global South as well as an attempt to balance the G20 which has a very large European presence. While most countries have expressed approval of the idea, some challenges remain:

other regional groupings like ASEAN and CELAC who are also regular invitees may object

Countries like Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland that have larger economies than some of the other members, also want to be inside the G20

With consensus being hard to manage amongst 20 members – the induction of an entire continent could make decisions harder to pass

4. Promotion of India’s focus areas

1. Global South Issues- Debt restructuring where India is seeking global lenders like IMF, US, China to help countries with unsustainable loans

2. Reform of Multilateral Development Bank- India has commissioned a report by two experts Lawrence Summers and NK Singh

3. Accelerating progress on SDGs- India’s G20 Presidency collides with the crucial midpoint of the 2030 Agenda, which have been derailed after COVID-19 pandemic

4. Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure - concerns over privacy issues

5. Women-led development - gender differentiation vs gender equality

In addition, the Indian G20 Presidency has sought to differentiate itself by ensuring every G20 meeting is held in a different location, and more than 200 meetings were held in 50 venues around the country, in order to showcase India’s diversity.

WV Take: With G20 summit preparation now going into the last month, India has to double up efforts to ensure a consensus is built, as Indonesia did last year, and to not allow the Ukraine war to become the reason the G20 fails to unite or issue a communique. The burden of the heavy lifting will go to PM Modi, who may need to travel and to even set aside India’s bilateral problems in order to achieve a multilateral goal in September.

WV Reading Recommendations:

1. G20 @ 2023: The Roadmap to Indian Presidency by V Srinivas (and other books in previous WorldView #98)

2. India’s G20 Presidency “One Earth, One Family, One Future” India - Power to Empower by chandrasekhar buddha- Kindle book

Here are some others you may find useful on the subjects that are polarising the world:

3. The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats – and Our Response – Will Change the World by Ian Bremmer – who writes about the Trio of global health emergencies, transformative climate change, and the AI revolution.

Also the Author of Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism and Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World

4. Principles for Dealing With The Changing World Order by Ray Dalio-

Writes about the confluence of 3 things not seen since 1930s- huge debts in the world’s three major reserve currencies; big political and social conflicts within them due to disparities; and the rising of a world power (China) to challenge the existing world power (US) and the existing world order.

5. The New Cold War: The United States, Russia, and China from Kosovo to Ukraine by Gilbert Achcar

6. The World After Ukraine -Kindle Edition by Garry Kasparov

7. End of the World is Just Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan – who earlier wrote Disunited Nations

8. Chip Wars by Chris Miller

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon and Reenu Cyriac

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