G 20 has emerged as a unique multilateral body, though without a comparable organisational structure and mandate to underwrite global financial and economic development rules. Yet its composition gives it the leverage, both physical and rational to raise the concerns of both developed and developing economies. The German chairmanship in 2017 has helped to steer this body to reallocate its attention, and energy into those parts of the world which are not a member of the G 20 process. The results are very promising and worth pursuing with greater deal of commitment in Argentina, and later in Japan and India chairmanship years.
What has been achieved by the G 20 so far?
Starting as an inclusive group of economies that is more representative of the global spread of development, the G 20 played a crucial role in stabilizing economies and financial markets in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Since then, the G 20 has travelled a long way to reach the Hamburg Declaration, where it brings the attention towards combating rising protectionism and push back to globalisation. The G 20 Leaders’ communique has stated the commitment of the group to shape globalisation to benefits all people, and to make development more inclusive by connecting developed and emerging economies closely.
When G 20 reaffirms its faith in globalisation, and connectivity among developing and developed countries, the multilateral processes get a sizeable boost to their strength for negotiating rules that are supportive of open and enhanced trade and economic cooperation. Effectively, it gives a resonance to the demands of smaller and developing economies in the multilateral processes. The Asian economies especially lead this voice through example.
The G 20 can therefore mentor the global multilateral processes against protectionist tendencies, and allocate to itself a new leadership in global growth, which is inclusive and sustainable. The G 20 Africa initiative is also a part of this global role. More importantly, Germany’s leadership in G 20 on mentoring the global processes on inclusive and sustainable development can be continued with support from institutions and governments in the member countries. The important thing, however, is to bring in the voices and concerns of non-members, who constitute a huge number. A beginning has been made in Hamburg and inclusiveness within multilateral process is expected to continue herein after.
The G 20 Leaders specifically reaffirmed their commitment to international economic and financial cooperation to further strengthen growth and safeguard against downside risks. A special mention has been made to keep markets open, given the ‘importance of reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade and investment frameworks and the principle of non-discrimination, and to continue to fight protectionism.’ The Leaders’ commitment to ensure a level playing field, in particular by promoting a favourable environment for trade and investment is important for multilateral governance of trade and investment. It will ensure effective participation of many of the smaller and emerging economies in the multilateral processes for trade and investments, and will also support lowering of barriers to trade and movement of goods and services.
The road ahead for G 20
The G 20 has explicitly supported the monitoring activities by the WTO, UNCTAD and OECD, including the World Bank Group and IMF to strengthen the G20 trade and investment cooperation. It would greatly help the cause of inclusive development, and sharing of prosperity among the developed and developing economies if the G 20 created a mentoring role for itself to these multilateral forums. This will ensure the participation of less developed and emerging economies in the multilateral platforms, and their voices will be accounted for in all the rules that underwrite future trade and investment activities.
The current mood of disenchantment with multilateral governance bodies, in particular those mandated with economic and developmental issues need serious efforts from members of G 20 to restore the confidence of global community in the consensus and inclusive models of development.
Thus only the G 20 will be fulfilling its role of truly connecting the developed with emerging economies, and creating conditions for partnerships and development that transcend the official membership of G 20.