Thursday, January 20, 2022

G-20 Foreign Ministers Meet In Japan

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G-20 is the forum of the world’s top 20 developed and developing economies; it comprises of 19 member states plus the European Union. After its  14th Summit meeting  held  late June in Osaka, this year, Japan hosted it’s follow up meeting  of Foreign Ministers  in Nagoya city. India was represented by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar. The foreign ministers meeting was held in closed sessions; the ministers deliberated upon the current international situation and the recessionary trends in global economy.

After the meeting, the Foreign Minister of Japan, Toshemitsu Motegi, who was also the Chairman of the G-20 foreign ministers meeting, informed that the G-20 foreign ministers had agreed on the urgent need of reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO), so that it can address several current issues. The member states also want the organisation to improve its dispute settlement mechanism, which was also deliberated upon during the Heads of States Summit in Osaka. Mr. Motegi disclosed that a decision was taken to push forward the negotiations on the proposed Asia Pacific Free Trade Agreement (APFTA) to finalise and conclude it by all the original 16 member states, including India. During the meeting, the foreign ministers briefly explained their official position on issues of relevance and did not seek any consensus on any particular burning issue.

Significantly, since India has been given the honour of hosting the G-20 summit three years from now, in 2022 , India’ s role in shaping the G-20 agenda, for   putting  the world economy on the growth path, will be closely watched by  leading  economic  institutions of the world.

Established in 1999, the G-20 was elevated from a forum of finance ministers and Central Bank governors to that of Heads of States in 2008 to effectively respond to the global financial crises of 2008. Since then, it has emerged as the global forum for international economic cooperation. G-20 members represent around 85 percent of global gross domestic product, over 75 percent of global trade and two thirds of the global population.  India has participated in all the G-20 summits held so far and is looking forward to hosting the 17th G-20 summit in India.

Held in the backdrop of US–China tariff war, the meeting of foreign ministers in Nagoya discussed the follow up measures to be taken to implement the decisions taken during the Osaka summit held in June. The issues of importance for India includes energy security, financial stability, disaster resilient infrastructure, reformed multilateralism, WTO reforms, countering terrorism, return of economic fugitives, food security, democratisation of technologies and portable social security schemes. In the absence of US Secretary of State, some of the member countries are also reported to have raised the issue of rising protectionism and unilateral sanctions.

The meet also discussed the effects of geopolitical and trade tensions and progress towards sustainable development, among other issues. The meet provided a good opportunity for the participants to discuss controversial reforms proposals put forth by the World Trade Organisation.

On the side-lines of G-20 foreign ministers meeting, the Indian External Affairs Minister  held significant interactions with the foreign ministers of China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, China, Australia, Chile and France.

With the French foreign minister,   Dr. Jaishankar, discussed a wide range of issues which also included the Indo-Pacific strategic landscape.  With the Spanish foreign minister, the Indian foreign minister discussed the future of India’s ties with European Union. He also met the foreign affairs minister of Chile to prepare the ground for expanding cooperation. Dr. Jaishankar discussed the upcoming visit of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to India with Australia’s foreign minister Marise Paine,

The G-20 meet thus provided an occasion for India to express her viewpoints on issues of national and international concern.

Script: Ranjit Kumar, Diplomatic Editor, Navodaya Times

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