The G20 has 20 members, comprising the European Union and 19 States: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The G20 members represent:
- 85% of global GDP
- 2/3 of the world’s population
- 75% of global trade
- 80% of global investment
- 92% of global R&D expenditure
The G20 was created in summer 1999 to tackle the crises which at the time were afflicting several emerging economies, and took the form of meetings between finance ministers and central bank governors. A genuine forum for economic and financial cooperation, the aim was to convene the finance ministers and central bank governors from industrialized countries and emerging countries once per year in order to facilitate international economic concertation and together find solutions to economic crises and difficulties.
In 2008, the leaders of the G20 countries met for the first time at the highest level to try to provide a concerted response to the global financial crisis. For the Washington D.C. Summit, which took place on 14-15 November 2008, the Heads of State and Government agreed on a global-scale action plan aimed at preventing the collapse of the international financial system and relaunching the global economy.
In 2018, the G20 celebrated its tenth year of existence as a summit for Heads of State. It has been a great success, playing an essential role in tackling the economic and financial crisis. Since then, it has become the leading forum for global economic governance, where economic and financial issues, but also major global issues are discussed, such as the fight against terrorism, global healthcare, the fight against climate change, migration and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
List of Summits: Hamburg, Germany (2017); Hangzhou, China (2016); Antalya, Turkey (2015); Brisbane, Australia (2014); Saint Petersburg, Russia (2013); Los Cabos, Mexico (2012); Cannes, France (2011); Seoul, South Korea (2010); Toronto, Canada (2010); Pittsburgh, United States (2009); London, United Kingdom (2009); Washington D.C., United States (2008).
How does the G20 work?
The G20 is based on a rotating presidency system. Each year, a G20 Member State is responsible for organizing the Heads of State Summit as well as all preparatory work. The incumbent presidency involves the outgoing presidency and the succeeding presidency when forming meeting agendas, under the “troika” system.
To oversee the work of the various G20 working groups, the Heads of State are represented by envoys known as “sherpas”. In France, the sherpa of the President of the French Republic is his diplomatic adviser, Philippe Etienne. These sherpas meet several times per year, in order to prepare the communiqué which will be endorsed by the Heads of State during the Summit.
Throughout the year, the work of the G20 is divided into two tracks:
- The “Finance” track includes the meetings and exchanges between the Finance Ministers and central bank governors, their deputies and other specialists. This track deals with financial and economic issues, including growth policies, work on the international financial architecture, infrastructure investment, financial regulation, financial inclusion and international taxation.
- The “Sherpas” track, named after the personal representatives of the Heads of State, supervises the work of the specialists in global issues, such as global health, the fight against climate change, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, education, migration, gender equality and the fight against corruption.
The sherpas coordinate the work of the thematic groups (development, fight against corruption, food safety, etc.). These working groups made up of experts inform leaders on the themes set out by the Presidency. These themes are not permanent: each Presidency chooses to either maintain them or create new ones based on the needs of its Presidency. Each group is co-chaired each year by two G20 member countries.
To carry out its work, the G20 draws on the technical expertise of many international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB).
For several years, the G20 has been building permanent dialogue with civil society through engagement groups which include both NGOs and employer and trade union representatives. The G20 currently has seven engagement groups: Business (B20), Civil Society (C20), Labour (L20), Science (S20), Think Tanks (T20), Women (W20) et Youth (Y20).
The G20 Hamburg Summit, which took place on 7 and 8 July 2017, was a success. The 20 Members succeeded in reaching the necessary compromises in order to reaffirm a message of unity, despite any differing views between them. Discussions between the leaders, which were reflected in the communiqué, helped make strong progress towards a more regulated and inclusive globalization:
- The adoption of a shared Statement on Countering Terrorism was a major step forward, especially as regards (i) the fight against terrorist financing, through the commitment to strengthen the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and (ii) the fight against the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
- As regards the climate, the G20 reaffirmed the shared ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and despite the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the commitment of the other G20 Members to fully implement the Paris Climate Agreement.
- A year after the “Panama Papers” affair, work on taxation and financial integrity has also been stepped up and will remain at the heart of the G20 agenda.
- The group reiterated its rejection of protectionism, recalled the importance of open, fair and reciprocal trade and made commitments to ensure a level playing field in terms of competition.
The Argentinian G20 Presidency in 2018
Argentina hosted the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires on 30 November and 1 December 2018 - the first G20 Summit to be held in South America.
Ten years after the creation of the G20 at the level of Heads of State and Government, the G20 Member States chose to send a message of unity, reaffirming in a joint communiqué their support for an international rules-based system.
In particular, they together made decisions on:
- Trade, to launch a WTO reform agenda, which would be discussed at the next G20 Summit in Osaka;
- Climate, recognition of the climate emergency highlighted by the IPCC’s special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C and a reminder of the irreversibility of the Paris Agreement and the commitment of 19 of the Member States to implement it;
- Economic and financial issues, the key role of the IMF in the international financial system, the issue of sustainability and debt transparency in developing countries, and the fight against corruption.
The Japanese Presidency of the G20 in 2019
Since 1 December 2018, Japan has been G20 President for the first time. It hosted the Leaders’ Summit in Osaka on 28 and 29 June 2019.
Japan identified several priorities for this Summit:
- Issues relating to trade and data governance, with discussions on WTO reform and on modernizing the rules relating to e-commerce and the circulation of data;
- The spread of ambitious norms as regards investments and financing for development, with special emphasis on the quality of infrastructure and transparent debt management in order to encourage sustainable development;
- The challenge of ageing populations and the need to adapt societies to this phenomenon;
- Sustainable development goals, based in particular on global health issues, gender equality and the fight against marine plastic pollution.
Outcome of the G20 Summit in Osaka (June 2019)
- G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration
- G20 Osaka Leaders’ Statement on preventing exploitation of the internet for terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism (VECT)
France sees in the G20 a unique forum for dialogue between developed countries and big emerging countries where they can address pressing and future economic issues.
It encourages a wide range of action from the G20, including on issues that are not strictly economic, such as tackling climate change (building on the COP21), the social sphere (G20 Taskforce on Employment created under its presidency), the agricultural sphere (food security and the response to the demographic challenge in agriculture), development and promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and G20 dialogue with regional organizations (AU, ECOWAS, ASEAN, APEC) and the United Nations.
In the economic sphere, France supports G20 efforts to dissuade trade protectionism, to promote a sustainable trajectory in public debt management and to encourage domestic demand in the countries whose debt is sustainable.
It also promotes the implementation of strengthened and better coordinated regulation and supervision of markets and financial institutions in legislative frameworks of Member States. It would like to see the international financial governance rebalanced in the Bretton Woods institutions (thanks to a representation that reflects each country’s influence in the world economy more accurately).
In the financial and tax sector more specifically, France supports G20 action to regulate and supervise financial institutions (institutions of systemic importance globally and nationally, banks and insurances). It has also taken the lead in the fight against non-cooperative jurisdictions (the Panama Papers case has shown the importance of fighting tax havens), the regulation of the parallel banking system (institutions that do not have the status of banks but serve as financial intermediaries), the regulation of rating agencies and efforts to curb the volatility of commodity prices (energy and agriculture) and fighting terrorist financing.
French priorities in 2019
France intends to play its full role in global economic governance. Its main objective is to defend multilateralism, which remains the most legitimate and effective method of collective decision-making in an interconnected and inter-dependent world. In the face of globalization which has not benefitted everyone, citizens want concrete responses to better regulate the international economy.
The G20 is today a valued forum for dealing with major global issues: fighting climate change and protecting the environment and biodiversity, defending a fair, open, rules-based multilateral trade system, promoting fair competition on a worldwide scale, gender equality, implementing Agenda 2030, particularly as regards education and world health (including with a view to the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment Conference in Lyon on 10 October 2019), and the international fight against terrorism. France has high ambitions in these areas so that the G20 can help address world crises and build a fairer globalization.
Updated: June 2019