by Avishka Ashok

G20 is Group of Twenty, an intergovernmental forum, comprising 19 countries and the European Union (EU). It works to address major issues related to the global economy.

On November 15, 2022, the leaders from the G20 member-states and other observer states gathered in Bali, Indonesia, for a two-day long Summit to discuss global issues such as global security, climate change, post-pandemic economic recovery, the war in Europe and more.

Who said what?

Host country President Joko Widodo spoke about the war in Ukraine: “If the war does not end, it will be difficult for the world to move forward. We should not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war. Indonesia has tried as best as possible to bridge very wide differences. We have no other option; collaboration is badly needed.”

Commenting on the war, Rwandan President Paul Kagame decried the effects of the war on Africa and said: “What Africa wants to see is peace. We are confident that we cannot be accused of taking sides, simply by asking for peace. Africa is here for Africa and our productive relationship with the rest of the world.”

China’s President Xi Jinping met with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the side-lines of the G20 and expressed the country’s support for the UN-centred international system. He said: “China will strive to promote the overall progress of mankind through Chinese modernization and create new opportunities for the world through its further development, with a view to adding more stability and certainty to a volatile world.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his scepticism on consenting on global issues, including the war in Ukraine. He said: “We are working very hard to ensure that we not only make clear, important statements on all the issues that affect the world together … but also on the issues of peace and the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and President Xi Jinping discussed the issue of growing debt. The Elysee Palace released a statement: “They expressed their determination to move forward with the implementation of a common debt framework, and raised the particularly urgent case of Zambia.”

US President Joe Biden tweeted: “I met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to reaffirm our commitment to the G20 as the premier forum for global economic cooperation. In the face of global challenges, our coalition continues to demonstrate strength.”

This analysis identifies the following three key takeaways:

Global issues

The G20 member countries unanimously adopted a declaration to ensure cautious evaluation of rising interest rates to prevent spill overs in the global economy. Emphasis was laid upon supporting smaller countries in dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The countries also stressed balancing the increased currency volatility in the economy and making fiscal stimulus measures temporary and targeted. Furthermore, the G20 raised concerns about the rising debt in developing countries and urged the creditors to share the burden.

Besides the growing instability in the economy, the G20 also focused on global issues such as food insecurity and climate change. The Summit attempted to address the challenges posed to food security but was criticized for not taking concrete steps to tackle hunger. The leaders pledged to take coordinated action on the issue. However, international NGOs like Global Citizen called out the G20 for its lack of action. They urged immediate and urgent attention towards the 50 million people on the brink of starvation.

The Summit also highlighted the climate change challenge and agreed to coordinate the mitigation of climate change’s effects and restrict the global temperature increase. The leaders underscored the necessity to abide by the temperature goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The three largest rainforest countries, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia, also launched a joint partnership to coordinate forest conservation and preservation after decades of negotiations.

Ukraine War

The G20 Summit in Bali ended without a joint declaration due to the opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive war in Ukraine. The Summit, however, adopted a declaration denouncing Russia and its actions. The declaration is considered contradictory for using strong terms against Moscow but also upholding the opinions of some members who reproved the use of unilateral sanctions in international affairs. The declaration upheld that the war had exacerbated the economic woes, caused inflation, restricted supply chains, increased energy and food insecurity, and engendered human suffering. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Summit via video link and excluded Russia from the group, calling it G19 and urging the world leaders to act responsibly in bringing an end to the violence. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov rejected the declaration for being politicized by the West.

Bilateral Interactions

The G20 provided a platform for numerous bilateral meetings between the members of the group. The meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden was one of the much-awaited bilateral meet. The leaders discussed global issues of common interest, the war in Ukraine, climate change and more. Xi warned Biden not to cross China’s redlines and stressed that the Taiwan question formed an important political foundation for the continuation of Sino-US ties. Biden expounded on the US position to strengthen its presence in Asia if China was unable to control North Korea’s irrational missile launches.

The countries also discussed trade restrictions and technology transfers while agreeing to keep the communication line open. Xi also held bilateral discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte, South African President Ramaphosa, Australian Prime Minister Albanese, and more. In his meeting with Canadian President Justin Trudeau, Xi Jinping criticized the country for leaking the details of their bilateral meeting without prior consent. The short disagreement caught the media’s attention as it displayed the growing discontent between the two leaders and the representative countries. Joe Biden also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and promised to invest USD 15 million in the country’s health infrastructure.

India’s Presidency

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the G20 presidency and revealed the key agenda for the coming year. He said: “In the next one year, it will be our endeavour that G20 works as a global prime mover to give impetus to collective action.” Modi highlighted that India would be presiding over the G20 during intense geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown caused by the pandemic and the Ukraine war, and the increasing food and energy costs. Modi pledged to keep gender parity at the centre of the G20’s activities and planned to make the forum a catalyst for global change.

(The write-up first appeared on the Global Politics website which is run by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore.)


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