G20 Summit in Bali: What to expect

IIndonesia is bringing leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies to its paradise island of Bali for a two-day summit from Nov. 15-16 to discuss how they can cooperate to build a more stable future. But as the post-pandemic theme of this year’s summit is “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”, geopolitical divisions take center stage.

The summit chair, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, had hoped the meeting would provide an opportunity for some of the world’s biggest powers to put aside their differences in order to focus on addressing pressing global challenges related to the current health risks of COVID-19 and the impending economic recession. , and sustainable development. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the energy and food supply crises it exacerbated, cast a shadow over the G20. Just like the rising tensions between China and the United States.

“The G20 is not meant to be a political forum,” said Jokowi, as the Indonesian leader is known. “It’s supposed to be about economics and development.”

Read more: Quagmire in Ukraine makes Russia a less valuable ally to others

As part of a tour to highlight the importance of attending the summit, Jokowi visited Moscow and Kyiv earlier this year. Hoping to foster an inclusive dialogue, he rejected pressure to exclude Russia from this year’s summit and extended an invitation to Volodomyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, a non-member state. But Zelensky announced he would not attend the summit if Russia’s Vladimir Putin was there, and other Western leaders balked at the idea of ​​sharing a table with Putin. Last week, officials confirmed that Russia would send a foreign minister to Bali in place of Putin; a spokesman for Zelensky said the Ukrainian leader would likely attend virtually.

While much attention has been paid to whether Putin and Zelensky will show up, the in-person attendance of US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping also appears to overshadow the main event. The dueling superpower leaders will meet for the first time under President Biden ahead of Monday’s summit. The meeting comes amid an increasingly strained relationship between the two governments over disagreements over trade policy, human rights, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Observers believed Jokowi intended to chair the G20 as his flagship project to raise the international profile of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country and the first Southeast Asian country to host the summit. . But with this year’s meeting overshadowed by so many other factors, analysts believe Indonesia now wants to wrap it up and pass the torch to India, which will host the summit next year.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told Reuters earlier this month how difficult it had been to organize the summit in such a difficult geopolitical situation. “It may be the toughest of all the G20s,” she said.

“That’s not what they signed up for,” Gregory Poling, senior fellow and director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told a press conference the following day. last week. “It’s been a tough year.”

What is the G20?

The Group of 20, or G20, is a council of 19 countries and the European Union that meets to discuss major issues facing the global economy. Together, the G20 represents more than 80% of the world’s total economic output, 60% of the Earth’s population and 75% of world trade.

Formed in 1999 as an outgrowth of the G7 in response to the international debt crises of the time, the G20 aims to ensure global economic and political security through discussions among its members as well as an annual summit of finance ministers and , since 2008, Heads of State.

The presidency and hosting duties of the G20 rotate between member states every year.

What are the major challenges for this year?

The 2022 G20 summit comes as the world heads into a global recession. Countries’ central banks have raised interest rates to curb inflation, but prices are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels. The World Bank reports that these hikes, coupled with strains in financial markets, could cause global GDP growth to slow to 0.5% next year, destabilizing major economies and significantly slowing poverty reduction. in developing countries.

COVID-19-related disruptions, particularly in China, have also hampered international supply chains, causing bottlenecks in trade and hampering global economic activity. And the world is heading towards a twin crisis of food and energy security resulting from regional conflicts, including the war in Ukraine, and natural disasters intensified by climate change.

Read more: The future of the world is in the hands of Chinese President Xi Jinping

As part of its G20 Presidency, Indonesia has also set three explicit priorities on the agenda: strengthening global health infrastructure, ensuring an inclusive transformation of the digital economy and promoting a sustainable energy transition.

What effect has the Ukraine-Russia conflict had on the G20?

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo after a press conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 30, 2022.

Vyacheslav Prokofyev—Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

In addition to upsetting the liberal international order, the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy supply crisis and aggravated the global food crisis.

The G20 summit and its related meetings earlier this year have become a forum for other member states to air their grievances against Russia. At a G20 meeting in April, the finance ministers of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada staged a walkout while Russian envoys spoke. At another G20 meeting in July to lay the groundwork for this week’s summit, diplomats in attendance failed to produce a usual group statement on bitterness over Russia’s responsibility for the impact of war on the world. And in September, efforts to reach multilateral resolutions on education and climate also failed following reports of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who walked out of the July meetings, will attend the leadership summit this week on behalf of Putin and is likely to remain a divisive figure and a center of contempt.

How will US-China relations play a role at the summit?

The G20 summit provides a rare opportunity for Biden and Xi to meet in person. Biden arrives in Bali on the heels of a midterm election that went surprisingly well for the Democratic Party, while Xi has just won a groundbreaking third term as leader of the ruling Communist Party a few weeks earlier. . But tensions are high between the two governments, who are expected to represent opposing ideals and visions for the global economy at the first multilateral assembly where the two presidents will be present.

China has urged Indonesia to keep politics out of the G20, but divisions over Russia are likely to be an inevitable flashpoint. The country has taken a strategically less aggressive stance toward Moscow than its Western counterparts would like, and it pushed back against calls in March to expel Russia from the G20. “The UN Security Council is the right platform to discuss political and security issues,” China’s foreign minister said in a statement in May. “The G20 must stay in its role, focus on the coordination of macroeconomic policies and fulfill its own mission.”

Biden, according to officials who spoke to Reuters, plans to be “unapologetic” at the G20 to defend Ukraine and criticize Russia for its responsibility for the war’s impacts on food and energy security.

Biden and Xi are also using the G20 summit in Bali to hold a bilateral meeting on Monday in which Taiwan is expected to be high on the agenda. Other issues such as climate change, trade policy and the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province are also points of contention. Biden said he hoped the meeting offered each side clarity on the other’s “red lines.”

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