Under the theme ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, India gears up to host the concluding leg of the annual G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9-10. The summit will mark the end of India’s year as G20 president. Founded in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was a forum for finance ministers and governors of central banks to come together and discuss global economic and financial issues. The Asian financial crisis began in 1997 in Thailand and spread to several other countries in a ripple effect, gripping much of east and Southeast Asia and threatening a global impact. The situation, however, stabilised and recovered by 1998-99.
After the global economic meltdown of 2007, the G20 group was elevated to the level of Heads of State/Government and was named the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.” This conglomerate includes 19 wealthiest countries of the world and the European Union. Its presidency rotates annually among the member countries. The G20 countries together account for 75 per cent of global trade and 85 per cent of the world’s GDP, besides comprising nearly two-thirds of the global population. It is to be noted that the G20 conglomerate is distinct from G20+, a bloc of developing nations established on August 20, 2003. It emerged at the fifth Ministerial WTO conference held in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003.
For the G20 summit being held in New Delhi, Russian premier Vladimir Putin will not be in attendance due to his “busy schedule”. Putin, however, had attended the BRICS summit virtually, reportedly to avoid a possible arrest by the International Criminal Court, which has issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest for war crimes in Ukraine. Similarly, Chinese President Xi Jinping has opted to forgo attendance, instead sending Premier Li Qiang as his representative. However, at the G20, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to be a talking point. Therefore, one of the major questions around the G20 Summit will be about the New Delhi declaration. It’s never been easy for the leaders of the world’s largest economies to find common ground.
Negotiators have been struggling for days to agree on the language because of differences over the war, hoping to get Russia and China on board to produce a communique that will also address pressing global problems like debt and climate change. The hardened stance on the Ukraine war has prevented agreement on even a single communique at the ministerial meetings during India’s G20 presidency so far this year. Western countries want a strong condemnation of the invasion as a condition for agreeing to a Delhi declaration. India has suggested that the G20 also reflects Moscow and Beijing’s view that the forum is not the place for geopolitics. Ending the summit without a communique would underscore how strained relations are among the world’s major powers.