Now the permanent stewards of the world economy, will G20 keep the momentum going by improving the global economic regime that has been crafted over the years?
G20 has come a long way – the new kid on the block in 2004 is now the leader of the pack. It started as an alliance to bring democracy to world trade at the WTO talks in Cancun and has become the main permanent body in the world responsible for economic co-operation, meeting annually at the leaders level
Hopefully G20 will not forget the importance of world trade. Will G20 again, manage to have an impact on world trade? The WTO trade talks in Cancun, as you may remember, collapsed as a result of G20 demanding fairer trade. If so, what strategies will be deployed to negotiate a trade deal that benefits not only multinationals in the North but also the poor in the South? How will G20 make the world focus on making international trade rules fairer? What steps will be taken to decrease rich countries protectionist policies?
G20 is now the key player on the global scene which, at least in theory, enables it to provide the conditions for developing countries to embark on peace, prosperity and pluralism. We have come a long way from G8 to G20 and it will go further. The developing world, representing four-fifth of humanity, is now much better represented on the global scene.
Poverty does not cause terrorism – but it causes frustration and resentment that help foster the kind of atmosphere in which extremist groups can thrive. A much better, and cheaper, way of defeating extremists than war on terrorism would be to give developing countries the possibility to trade out of poverty.
Trade has been shown to be the indispensable means for poverty reduction and growth. There also seems to be a close correlation between a country engaging in open trade and ultimately embracing democracy. With 40 percent of humanity living on less than $2 a day and approximately a billion living under military style dictatorships often engaged in civil war and genocide, we should care a lot. The most striking example of the benefits of a trade oriented economy versus a closed, self-sufficient one is the two Koreas. At the end of the Korean war in 1952 they were both extremely poor. And how North and South Korea have developed since then under their different systems is well known.
What will G20 do to craft a fairer world trade order? Most Westerners would like a fair global economic system. If, for instance, the issue of access to life-saving Aids drugs were put to a vote, the overwhelming majority would not support the position of Western pharmaceutical companies. The power of special interests is high – but will it still be if trade moves up the political agenda in G20? And once that has happened, will people in the West agree to anything that asks the poorest people in the world – the billions living on less than $2 a day – to pay the price? Will G20 leaders from developing countries manage to make their colleagues from the West realize that in order for the world economy to work properly, there need to be advantages for the poor as well? That’s the big question isn’t it ,and my hope is that they will succeed so that we can finally unlock the benefits of the world economy for all.