Many thought the 18th G20 summit would not end in any agreement and declaration due to the divisions among members over the Russian war against Ukraine. The Indian delegation led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached a consensus on Saturday (September 9), with China and Russia approving the New Delhi Declaration which condemned the 'war in Ukraine' without mentioning Russia.
India, over the weekend, was able to play a crucial role in addressing global challenges and fostering cooperation within the Group of 20 leading economies.
1. Consensus on Ukraine, sans 'Russia'
- One of the most surprising outcomes of the summit was the consensus on the Ukraine crisis.
- In the lead-up to the event, divergent views on Russia's actions in Ukraine had raised concerns about a potential derailment of the meeting.
- However, the final Leaders' Declaration, while avoiding direct condemnation of Russia, did acknowledge the severe human suffering caused by the conflict.
- It also called upon all states to refrain from using force to acquire territory, reflecting a careful balance struck by the member nations.
2. Perspective on Ukraine
- Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov who filled in for President Vladimir Putin, hailed the summit as a success for both India and the Global South, which comprises developing countries worldwide.
- He credited India with effectively consolidating G20 members from the Global South, underlining India's growing influence in the international arena.
- French President Emmanuel Macron said that while the G20 was originally established to address international economic matters, it may not be the ideal forum for diplomatic resolutions to the Ukraine conflict. Nevertheless, he pointed out that the majority of members expressed concern about the impact of the war in Ukraine, reaffirming the isolation of Russia on the global stage.
3. African Union admitted
- The G20 took a significant step towards inclusivity by admitting the African Union, representing 55 member states, as a permanent member of the group.
- India, as the voice of the Global South had for a long time batted for making multilateral organisations more inclusive and diverse.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "elated" as he welcomed the AU Chairperson with the 'Modi hug.'
4. Food Security
- The summit addressed pressing food security concerns, particularly in the context of Russia's Black Sea grain deal.
- Russia indicated its willingness to rejoin the agreement, which allows Ukraine to export grain to Africa and Asia, provided specific conditions were met.
- The safe flow of grain, food, and fertilizer from both Russia and Ukraine was a focal point of the discussions.
5. Crypto Regulation
- The G20 meeting witnessed a growing consensus on the need for clearer policies and regulations regarding cryptocurrencies.
- With the rapid rise of digital currencies, leaders recognised the importance of establishing comprehensive guidelines to address potential financial risks and ensure consumer protection.
- This consensus represents a step towards harmonising approaches to regulate emerging financial technologies, especially India which was sceptical of it for some time.
6. Debt Relief Framework
- A significant achievement of the summit was the consensus on a debt relief framework for Zambia, Ghana, and Ethiopia through multilateral banking institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.
- This framework provides a lifeline to countries facing crippling debt burdens, contributing to their sustainable development.
- It demonstrates the G20's commitment to addressing financial challenges in developing nations and a way out for countries crippled by the Chinee debt trap.
- India also pushed for its homegrown Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to enable financial inclusion at a micro level in countries not well connected.
7. Italy exiting BRI
- Dealing a blow to Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni conveyed Italy's intention to withdraw from the BRI during her meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, making Italy the sole G7 member to distance itself.
- This move aims to align Italy with its Western allies as it assumes the G7 presidency next year.
8. India-West Asia-Europe trade corridor
- The grouping also chalked down the development of an Arab-Mediterranean trade corridor connecting India to Europe and the Middle East via shipping and rail transportation.
- This initiative, backed by India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the EU, aims to reduce shipping costs and duration and counters China's Belt and Road Initiative.
- The proposed corridor has gained momentum due to the Haifa port acquisition by the Adani Group, providing a faster route to the European market. This effort may also boost pending free trade agreements with the EU, discussed during the G20 summit.
9. Energy and Climate Change
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with leaders from Singapore, Bangladesh, Italy, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Mauritius, and the UAE, inaugurated the Global Biofuel Alliance.
- The alliance seeks to accelerate the worldwide adoption of biofuels by promoting technological advancements, increasing the sustainable use of biofuels, and establishing robust standards and certifications with broad stakeholder involvement.
- Additionally, GBA will also function as a central knowledge repository and an expert centre, serving as a catalyst for international cooperation in advancing and widespread adoption of biofuels.
10. India's geopolitical goals
- India, the supposed champion of the Global South pretty much got what it wanted from the Summit.
- It includes showcasing its leadership and influence on the global stage, balancing the two warring parties in Europe and striking a consensus.
- India promoted inclusivity by admitting the African Union and advancing its economic and technological interests under its tenure.
- This successful summit reinforced India's position as a key player in international diplomacy.