Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return from Bali with nothing less than the much-coveted G 20 Presidency. The Indonesian President Joko Widodo will symbolically hand over the G 20 Presidency to PM Modi, at the closing session of the summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.
Within a fortnight of Modi’s visit to Indonesia (November 14 to 16), India will assume the Presidency of G 20 from the current chair Indonesia on December 1.
While unveiling the theme, logo, and website of the G 20 summit earlier this week, PM Modi hailed the forthcoming Presidency as a historic opportunity.
After all, the G20, or Group of Twenty, is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world’s major developed and emerging economies. Starting in 1999 as a meeting for the finance minister and central bank governors, the G20 has evolved into a yearly summit involving the heads of State and governments.
It comprises 19 countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, U.K, U.S., and the European Union (EU).
Collectively, the G20 accounts for 85 percent of global GDP, 75 percent of international trade, and two-thirds of the world population, making it the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
Under its Presidency, India is expected to host over 200 G20 meetings across the country. The G20 Leaders' Summit at the level of Heads of State / Government, scheduled to be held on 9 and 10 September 2023 in New Delhi, will be one of the most high-profile international gatherings to be hosted by India.
The Indian envoy to Indonesia, Manoj Kumar Bharti has said that PM Modi’s visit to Indonesia is short but significant. India will take forward the key points of Indonesia’s policy presidency related to food and renewable energy security besides health and digital transformation.
On the domestic front too, the G 20 Presidency will be politically beneficial for the Modi government which faces a general election in 2024. Modi’s oft-repeated assertion that India has arrived on the global stage, will be put to test during its year-long Presidency. The responsibility of steering this super influential group brings with it a lot of global clout.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to hold bilateral meetings with some of his counterparts, on the sidelines of the summit. He will also address and interact with the Indian community in Bali.
It was on December 1, 2021, that Indonesia assumed the presidency of the G 20 for the very first time. Indonesia had assumed the presidency from Italy.
Indonesia considers itself fortunate to have had the opportunity to host the G 20, the grouping of the world's leading powerful economies. Indonesia is among the top five most populous countries in the world. It is the world's single largest Muslim country, which has a fine history of living by its Pancasila doctrine.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is holding this presidency in the eighth year of his term as president. This final term will conclude in 2024 when constitutionally Jokowi cannot run again. Indonesia assumed the presidency when Jokowi was at the peak of presidential power and experience.
The Asian representation in G 20 is significant as it includes China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Every country gets a chance to host a G-20 presidency once in about two decades.
It is worth noting that the Indonesian turn to steer G 20 was actually in 2024. It was a mutual swap with India, which had the 2023 opportunity, for mutual convenience. For Indonesia, they would be the chair of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in 2024. To host and hold both the EAS presidency, along with the G 20 chairmanship was perhaps an overstretch. Therefore, the mutual swap with India was beneficial to them and they had the G 20 in 2021 and would follow it up as the ASEAN/EAS chairman in 2024 in the concluding year of Jokowi’s presidency.
The Indonesian presidency chose ‘Recover together, Recover stronger,’ as their theme. They emphasized combined, inclusive efforts of the G 20 to discover pathways for recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. To attain this, Indonesia prioritized three sectors as the fulcrum for sustainable recovery. These are strengthening global health architecture; digital transformation; and energy transformation.
The pandemic showed that the world's health architecture was not strong enough to deal with a global pandemic. Regional pandemics had been dealt with earlier and the structure set up for them was helpful. Now much more was required. Indonesia emphasizes that it is not only to face COVID but also to have global preparations for improved responses and capacities to deal with public health emergencies in the future.
Digital transformation is one of the major areas where Indonesia believes solutions are important to chug along the global economy in a post-pandemic phase. The digital economy can be an important basis for further growth and development. Enhancing digital skill development, digital literacy and an inclusive digital transformation with wide participation is among Indonesia's priorities.
The energy transformation transition involves new and renewable energy which is sustainable. This needs to prioritize energy security accessibility and affordability. Not only will this make economic growth more sustainable, but will widen the energy availability to areas not previously served. It will contribute to reducing climate change and achieving the SDGs.
Indonesia has been emphasizing the principle of inclusiveness and therefore chose to invite certain guest countries and international organizations to participate in its G 20 events. In their view, the G 20 are the leaders who provide the ideas and systems to move ahead, but the impact has to be on the entire world, particularly the developing countries, small island developing states, and other vulnerable groupings.
Indonesia invited nine countries to participate in its G 20 events. Spain is a constant, a permanent invitee and every chair invites it. Senegal is invited as chair of the African Union. Traditionally NEPAD, which has now become the African Union Development Agency, is also invited but it is likely to be represented by the chair of the African Union Commission. The ASEAN chair has been invited which in this case is Cambodia who will thereafter hand over to Indonesia. The Netherlands, Singapore, and the UAE are invited as important contributors to the global economy. The countries which chair the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) have also been invited. In this manner, Indonesia widened the scope from inviting the chairs of regional bodies like the AU and ASEAN, which were already on guest lists, by including CARICOM and the PIF.
Among the international organizations, invited are the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Financial Stability (FSB), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations. (UN)
One problem that Indonesia faced was that several members wanted to expel Russia and Indonesia had to devote considerable diplomatic capital to keep the G-20 flock together, without expelling Russia. But they had to pay a price for this choice and invite Ukraine, which got added to the list of guest countries.
The G 20 process works on two discussion pillars, the finance track, and the Sherpa track. The latter mainly deals with non-financial, economic, and development issues. Each of these has its working groups. There are separate engagement groups consisting of 10 community groups from various professional circles, who discuss a diversity of topics. Each of such engagement groups has an important role in the recovery of the global economy, and they are to provide important ideas and policy recommendations for the G20 leadership.
Indonesia is hosting the summit on the island of peace, Bali. Bali is not only a peaceful island with a Hindu majority, but it also has excellent convention centers and large numbers of hotels. The Summit infrastructure there has been well developed and will be put to good use. It has held EAS, APEC, and other summits there, as well as large ministerial meetings, of the WTO. Indonesia has hosted 180 main activities which were held in 20 Indonesian cities and thus, the engagement was not concentrated either in Jakarta or in Bali.
Indonesia hopes the G20 will have a positive impact on the Indonesian economy. Its foreign exchange earnings, tourism, and hospitality sectors could show recovery for its economy which was hard hit by the pandemic.
It is their estimation, that in previous presidencies nearly 13,000 international delegates visited the host country; And each summit generates over $100 million in revenue for the host country.
Given the greater interest in the G 20 this year, both, the cleavages and the unity ahead could have had a larger number of delegates in Indonesia this year.
(Gurjit Singh is the Former Indian Ambassador to Indonesia and ASEAN)