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The 2017 G20 Hamburg summit : Major Highlights

The 2017 G20 Hamburg summit

The 12th   Group of Twenty (G20) summit was held on 7–8 July 2017, at Hamburg Messe, in the city of Hamburg, Germany. The agenda of summit include wide ranging themes including routine themes like global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation etc. But the summit as expected focused and deliberated upon the emergent issues and concern of the global fraternity including “issues of global significance”: Migration, digitisation, occupation, health, Women’s Economic Empowerment and development aid. It also discussed issues of terrorism, free trade and the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement were on the agenda, on 8 July Africa was supposed to be a topic.

High Expectations

Whenever such a big gathering of who’s who takes place, expectations soar very high. Today the whole world looks up to G- 20 for solutions of different crises and big problems it is facing. But while the analysts considered communiqué of the 20 participants as a success, they pointed out that the 30-page summary paper stayed vague in many sections. However, the resolutions are not legally binding. Besides many additional documents were agreed upon, barely noticed by the public.

Many of the problems in the global political arena have continued because there are sustained differences among the global powers. G-20 this time offered a platform to leaders from two big powers- the US and Russia.   Trump and Putin reached a partial ceasefire agreement in Southwest Syria, starting July 9. The leaders of two major nuclear power also continued their talks  on 10 July. German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her delight that on the margins of G20 the first meeting between Trump and Putin took place. It’s always better to talk one to the other, not one about the other. I was gratified to hear that they talked at a great length.” The two had met in person there for the first time

Recognition of global problems as interrelated

The world is facing the problems of poverty, migration and threat to security all at once, but these problems cannot be seen independent from each other.   Wolfgang Schäuble, German Federal Minister of Finance, insisted on the interconnected nature of many issues facing G20 nations and the need to reach effective, cross-cutting policy measures: “Globalization has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, but there is also a growing rise in frustration in some quarters  development, (national) security and migration are all interlinked.”

Trade Issues

The disagreement in steel production and trade remained. The USA have accused steel producers in China and Europe of dumping and have been threatening with antidumping duty. The G20 demanded a report of overcapacities by November 2017.

The G20 final communique placed a new emphasis on the need for trade deals to be reciprocal and non-discriminatory towards developing countries, reducing the previous emphasis on the primacy of liberalization and the promotion of free market economics across the board.

Trade was intensely discussed and participants agreed to keep markets open and combat protectionism and unfair trade practises. The USA took a special stand as Trump supports protectionism. Participants agreed to a G20-Africa-Partnership and passed a special paper about the relationsships to the African nations.

Need for investment realise sustainable development

Expectations of growth being low and uncertainties in Europe and America looming large, some of the heads of state urged that investors should take the opportunities to invest in those economies where potential exists. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Norwegian pension funds to invest in his country’s National Infrastructure Investment platform as he met Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who, in a gesture symbolising renewed cooperation towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, offered him a round leather football embroidered with the initials ‘SDGs’.

Women’s entrepreneurship fund

The World Bank Group and the White House, represented by First Daughter Ivanka Trump, confirmed they would soon roll out a new fund that aims to help female entrepreneurs access capital, financing and managerial support in the developing world. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative fund had so far raised $325 million from various governments, and that he hoped to leverage that into a multi billion-dollar investment framework. President Trump lent his personal support by pledging $50 million from the United States to jump-start the fund: “by investing in women around the world, we’re investing in families, we’re investing in prosperity and we’re investing in peace”.

Need for concerted efforts to fight terrorism

All agreed to continue regulating financial markets and to combat financing terrorism and tax evasion. In a joint statement, G20 leaders vowed to take steps to prevent the internet from being used to spread propaganda. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi indirectly targeted Pakistan (which is not a member of G20) by naming terrorist organisations that operate from its soil and saying that the groups all share the same ideology and purpose – of spreading hate and killing people. Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged member states to unite to fight against terrorism and emphasized on preventive as well as de-radicalization programs.

Need for Cybersecurity

 President Donald Trump began his high-profile Europe (G-20) trip by publicly questioning the US intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. He used a one-one-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to make clear Moscow wouldn’t be punished for the hack. Trump announced during G-20 meeting that that he and Putin had agreed to create “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit to prevent election hacking, & many other negative things.    Trump later said he does not think this will happen. The announcement stunned lawmakers from both parties, with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham describing it as “pretty close” to the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Graham also blasted Trump for his continued refusal to acknowledge the Russian hacking campaign. With criticism pouring in, Trump tried to slightly distance himself from the idea later, with a tweet that said the “fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can, & did!”

Conclusion

In G-20 2017 financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting failed to yield a compromise. Breaking a decade-long tradition of endorsing open trade, G20 finance ministers and central bankers made only a token reference to trade in their communique, a clear defeat for host nation Germany, which fought the new U.S. government’s attempts to water down past commitments.

In the new U.S. administration’s biggest clash yet with the international community, G20 finance chiefs also removed from their statement a pledge to finance the fight against climate change, an anticipated outcome after U.S. President Donald Trump called global warming a “hoax”.

In a meeting that some said was at times 19 against one, the U.S. did not yield on key issues, essentially torpedoing earlier agreements as the G 20 requires a consensus. Still, the dialogue was friendly and non-confrontational, leaving the door open to a future deal.

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