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Can a divided G20 summit in India still determine the global agenda? | Business and economy

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New Delhi, India – As some of the most powerful government leaders travel to the Indian capital later this week to attend the summit of a deeply divided Group of 20, one question hangs over the hazy air of New Delhi: this annual meeting serves- Does she still have something?

There’s no easy answer, experts say.

The G20 was established in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors to discuss global financial and economic issues.

After the global financial crisis that began in 2007, he was elevated to the ranks of heads of state, and in 2009 he was designated the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.” At the time, G20 countries agreed to spend $4 trillion to revive their and the world’s economies, reduce trade barriers and carry out reforms to their financial systems.

Since then, leaders of G20 member countries have met annually to discuss economic and financial issues and, increasingly, broader global concerns.

In 2009, reports of a planned Iranian nuclear power plant took center stage at the G20 summit. In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama formally announced their adherence to the Paris climate agreement during the group’s meeting in Hangzhou, China.

More recently, the G20 has been criticized for failing to deliver a robust response to vaccine needs, including suspending patents, although it did agree to suspend debt payments for some of the world’s poorest countries.

Analysts agree that the The weight of the G20 – it represents 60 percent of the world’s population and more than 80 percent of global economic output – making it a relevant platform.

But it can also be a disadvantage, because with 19 member countries today – including competing superpowers like the United States, China and Russia – and the European Union, it increasingly faces interests which are not always aligned.

Residents remove debris from buildings damaged by a Russian missile attack, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the village of Tarasivka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, August 30, 2023 (Sergiy Voloshyn/Reuters )

“Difficult geopolitical moment”

“The G7 and the G20 are important for different reasons,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center.

The Group of Seven, whose members include only developed countries, is smaller and therefore “more influential”, he said. However, the importance of the G20 lies in the fact that it is “more reflective of the world as a whole” since its members also include developing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

That said, the G20 is going through “a very difficult geopolitical moment,” which limits its possibilities for action, Kugelman stressed. “Whatever the context, the United States and its allies under the same tent as China and Russia, you’re going to have a lot of problems,” he said. These tensions have further exploded amid the raging war in Ukraine, now in its second year and which has divided the world.

Against this backdrop – where the United States and its allies have condemned Russia’s war against Ukraine and imposed harsh sanctions while host China India and a few other countries have not – finding common ground on other issues is proving much more difficult.

Indeed, thanks to its presidency of the G20 which began in December last year and will end in November, India has had difficulty reaching consensus around the war in Ukraine. This has prevented it from releasing substantive final documents from the dozens of working groups and G20 meetings that India has hosted in recent months.

These challenges also plagued the last G20 presidency under Indonesia. India had hoped to do better. But so far, his performance has been “disappointing,” Kugelman said. The September 9-10 summit is its last chance to show that it can do something effective.

The success of this initiative, however, remains uncertain, especially since China’s Xi has decided to skip the annual summit for the first time. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be present neither, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also risks letting the conclave pass.

If India fails to secure a joint statement at the end of the G20 due to divisions among members, that would also be an embarrassing first.

“The most important platform”

However, other experts like Ashok Kantha, former Indian ambassador to China, believe that the G20 remains “the most important platform for international financial and economic issues and the development agenda.”

“There is a sense that the concerns and sentiments of the Global South are being ignored,” Kantha said, and that international organizations like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are rooted in the post-Second World War era. World War, dominated by a small number of countries.

India has attempted to highlight these concerns. At the start of her presidency, she organized a virtual meeting of the countries of the South in which 125 countries participated. At the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “three-quarters of humanity lives in our countries. We should also have (an) equal voice.

Many economists and some millionaires have called on the G20 to introduce a global tax on the super richciting growing inequality.

Meanwhile, in late August, and just before the G20 summit, Modi proposed that the The African Union should be a full member of the bloc – South Africa is currently the only country on the continent that is a member of the G20. He described his suggestion as an example of India’s “vision of inclusion”.

“The Indian government recognizes that global governance led by the United Nations system has failed and that there are alternative forums, non-Western or a mix of both, that must take on some of these responsibilities,” said Happymon Jacob, an analyst in foreign policy. and Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

“The reality of our times demands that we have more forums because much of humanity is simply not represented in traditional forums and these should be heard,” Jacob added.

This situation is further aggravated by the fact that the G20, which is primarily supposed to address issues such as climate change, development, global governance and green technology, among others, is drawn into debates on global security such as war in Ukraine.

“The West focuses on the war between Russia and Ukraine and believes its conflict is the world conflict,” but it has been absent when the South has needed help, for example with an adjustment fund climate or when Sri Lanka experienced its crisis. worst financial crisis, Jacob added.

“This focus exclusively on safety doesn’t help. The South has its problems, and they need to be heard. It is not enough to simply hear the issues that concern Americans and Europeans. It’s not sufficient.

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