Whilst the world was talking about the bombings and shootings that took place in a few cities around the world over the previous weekend, a group of the world’s leading economies met for discussion. The 15th and 16th of November and the lead up to that weekend saw the Group of Twenty, commonly referred to as the G20 meet for discussion and deliberation. The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors of 20 major economies. This year the governments meet in Antalya, the resort destination of Turkey, for their annual meeting.
This is the tenth consecutive year the summit has been held and this year’s meeting is aptly named ‘2015 G-20 Antalya Summit’ in recognition of the venue. Turkey took over the presidency of the group from Australia who held the presidency in 2014 and will hand it over to China who will be presiding over the organisation in 2016. Membership of the organisation is held by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. Previous summits have been held in Washington D.C. in 2008, in London in April 2009, in Pittsburgh in September 2009, in Toronto in June 2010, in Seoul in November 2010, in Cannes in 2011, in Los Cabos in 2012, in St. Petersburg in 2013 and finally in Brisbane in 2014.
Annually, the G20 also makes it a point to invite a few guests for their summits. They typically include Spain, the Chair of ASEAN, two African countries (the chair of the African Union and a representative of the New Partnership for African Development) and a country or two from the region the summit is being held. This year’s summit saw the attendance of Spain, Azerbaijan, Malaysia as the 2015 Chair of ASEAN, Senegal, Singapore and Zimbabwe as the representative of the African Union. The main focus of these discussions is achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth, promoting job creation and financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises and modernizing international financial architecture.
The G20 works closely with international organisations including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Leading up to the November summit, preparatory and regular meetings were held in many locations in Turkey this year, on Women-20, Youth-20, Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa, the silver economy, Islamic finance, tourism, agriculture and a variety of other subjects.
Priorities for 2015
The Turkish Presidency focused on inclusiveness, implementation and investment for robust growth during its term. And in the pursuit of achieving these objectives, the G20 strove to make itself more relevant to the rest of the world, including the low-income developing countries (LIDCs). The first of the 2015 priorities had to do with domestic and global dimensions. At the domestic level, it sought to ensure that the benefits of growth and prosperity are shared by all segments of society. To this end, the Presidency focused on the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as a cross-cutting subject. It also sought to strengthen their commitment on gender equality in employment as well as addressing youth unemployment. Turkey aimed to ensure that discussions within G20 resonated with the majority of its citizens. And challenges faced by the LIDCs were given more prominence at the international level.
Secondly, the Turkish Presidency sought implementation of the significant policy frameworks launched previously such as the Brisbane Action Plan in November 2014, which pledged to undertake about 1000 commitments that would add more than USD 2 trillion to the global GDP and generate millions of additional jobs for our citizens by 2018 once fully implemented. It also sought to implement amongst others financial regulation, international tax and international financial architecture. Finally, Turkey sought to emphasise on investments as a powerful driver of growth. It tried to address the investment gaps of the member countries via concrete and ambitious investment strategies whilst building on the existing frameworks.
The objectives of the 2015 summit are strengthening the global recovery and lifting potential, enhancing resilience and buttressing sustainability. Under the first objective it sought to enhance macroeconomic policy cooperation, investment, employment and trade. The discussions were on the necessary policies required to raise the pace of global growth with special emphasis on macroeconomic policy cooperation among the G20 countries which would result in lifting the growth potential of its economies. To this end it sought to boost investments, especially closing the infrastructure investment gaps, increase employment and promote trade, along with the appropriate macroeconomic policy combination.
Enhancing resilience was the second objective set out by Turkey for its tenure in Presidency which sought to increase a healthy and stable financial system, an effective and efficient international financial architecture, a smoothly functioning and fair international tax system as well as a fair and level playing field for businesses which includes anti-corruption. The third of its objectives focused on buttressing sustainability. To this end, the focus was on issues of development, energy and climate change finance. Our central focus will be lifting prosperity across the globe, with a particular focus on supporting efforts to eradicate poverty and ensure sustainable development in LIDCs.
This year’s conference too held several meetings with its partner engagement groups and included a new group on women’s engagement.
These groups play an important role in conveying the views of various stakeholders thus enriching and deepening the discussions taking place. Therefore it is essential to have effective dialogues within and between these groups.
Business 20: Also known as B20 was the first group to be formally recognised as a G20 engagement group. It recognises the crucial role the private sector plays in achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth. Therefore the Business 20 leads engagement with the G20 governments on behalf of the international business community. This group has been contributing to the G20 agenda since the Korean Presidency in 2010. B20 Turkey commenced its activities on 15 December 2014 and continued with the first meetings of its Taskforces in the beginning of February 2015. Several existing and newly established platforms such as the Joint Taskforce Meetings, World SME Forum (WSF), International Business Advisory Council (IBAC) and B20 Turkey Business Leaders Forum ensured that meetings were held in the context of the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD Forum, the global initiative for SMEs, the prominent business leaders of the G20 countries which coalesced to serve as an advisory body and the founding of a platform of over 100 Turkish business representatives to better align with the B20 process respectively.
The B20 recommended that the G20 continue their focus on structural reforms to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth as well as the effective and timely implementation of their respective growth and investment strategies. It further recommended the removal of 21 obstacles amongst others the ratification and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, finalisation and implementation of global financial reform agenda, improving the consultation process in the financial reform agenda and implementing G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership to increase private sector activity, particularly by SMEs.
Civil Society 20: This group worked under the tagline ‘re-envisioning the economy to enable women to reach their full potential’ as they have realised that gender inequality is prevalent in the G20 states and there is a lot to be done to rectify that. Further women carry out the vast majority of unpaid labour around the world and are vastly overrepresented in informal, insecure and vulnerable employment. They are also subject to occupational discrimination and lack access to social protection and pension systems. The group also known as C20 provides joint recommendations together with the W20 to increase women’s economic empowerment.
Women 20: Known as W20, is the newest engagement group. It was launched this year under the Turkish Presidency and concentrates on enhancing the role of women in business. With the launch of this new group, the leaders have given a strong signal that strengthening gender equality will be an important focus area of the G20 for years to come. This is a welcome and significant step forward. Together with the C20, it believes a new vision that will allow women to fulfil their potential is required if women’s economic contributions are to be fully and equitably integrated into the global economy. Therefore it provides six recommendations, recognise and minimise women’s unpaid care work in order to reduce the burden this places on women, establish legal and policy frameworks to eliminate workplace discrimination, including gender-based wage gaps and occupational segregation, set up and finance independent mechanisms and frameworks at national level which track the G20’s progress in implementing its key gender commitments, take measures to strengthen women’s economic, social and political networks in order to amplify women’s collective voices and raise awareness about policies and opportunities, lowering the women’s tax burden whilst securing their access to financial and productive assets and to markets and lastly by supporting women-owned micro-small- and medium-enterprises and innovation.
Labour 20: L20 is one of the six outreach groups within G20 and represents the interests of workers at the G20 level. It unites trade unions from G20 countries and Global Unions. It is convened by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC). Representatives of the global labour movement have been meeting and issuing priorities from the very first G20 Leaders’ Summit in Washington. However, the first formally recognised L20 Summit took place in Cannes (2011). Bringing trade union leaders of the world’s biggest economies and global trade unions together L20 provides input to the G20 Summits by voicing the demands of the trade unions through frequent exchanges with the Employment Working Group, Sherpas, Labour and Finance Ministers. In doing so, the L20 communicates the messages of the international labour movement on global policies to the G20 meetings.
L20 focuses on creating quality jobs with emphasis on infrastructure and the care sector. It also emphasises on youth employment and women’s participation, whilst looking at amongst others the formalisation of work via minimum wages, labour rights etc.
Think 20: Recognising the importance of think tanks and academia, the Mexican Presidency initiated T20 in 2012. It has since continued providing a significant contribution to the G20 dialogue. The first meeting was held with the participation of think tanks from 15 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Singapore, Turkey and South Korea. Under Turkey’s G20 Presidency, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) has been appointed to coordinate the activities of the Think 20.
T20 is different in nature to the other engagement groups as it is neither an advocacy platform that campaigns around specific issues, nor is it seeking to negotiate an agreed set of recommendations on the issues to be progressed. The Think 20 serves as an “ideas bank” for G20 which organises the analysis of global think tanks and high level experts in order to provide analytical depth to ongoing G20 discussions and produce ideas to help the G20 deliver concrete and sustainable policy measures. T20 conclusions are presented to G20 working groups, minister committees and leaders’ summit as policy options not recommendations. T20 Turkey continued to debate on themes presented in Brisbane last year on, Global Governance, Trade and Investment, Infrastructure, Financial Stability and Reform, Employment, Sustainable Development, Energy Governance. It also introduced Innovation and Technology and Internet Governance as new themes to the agenda.
Youth 20: An independent group, it brings together young leaders from across G20 countries. It seeks to build their skills and networks, and identifies the most pressing economic challenges and opportunities facing young people today. The Y20 is a forum to develop cooperation with the future generation and provides a platform for young people to have their voices heard on issues relevant to the G20 agenda. This year the T20 has been organised by the Youth Commission for Diplomacy and Collaboration (YCDC).
The above is a brief background of the G20 Summit in Turkey. This helps understand the role played by the individual engagement groups in influencing the decisions taken by the G20 leaders and the outcomes of the entire G20 Summit.