The G20 summit has come to an end in New Delhi, closing with a commitment to growth.
For Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the G20 summit was successful because they believed the emphasis was on economic progress for the global south – and not what’s happening in Ukraine.
“Our BRICS partners were especially active, in addition to India, Brazil and the Republic of South Africa. And largely thanks to such a consolidated position of the global south in defence of its legitimate interests, it was possible to prevent the success of the West’s attempt to again ‘Ukraine-ise’ the entire agenda to the detriment of discussing the urgent problems of developing countries.
But Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says no-one has or will forget Ukraine.
He says it was impossible to separate the invasion from economic issues at the G20.
“The G20 has delivered a strong consensus message on Russia’s war on Ukraine. That message is very strong language and the strongest language yet to be agreed by the international community. Very clear statements like we highlighted the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine with regard to global food and energy security supply chains, macro financial stability, inflation and growth, which has complicated the policy environment for countries.”
But debate has also continued to rage over the strength of the Summit’s statement on the invasion.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham says India deserves credit for achieving a consensus statement on the war.
He says it was important for Anthony Albanese to not undermine Australia’s credibility on the international stage through “unnecessary overreach” in his comments on the invasion.
But the Prime Minister says that’s not going to happen.
He says Australia has a seat at the table as world leaders seek economic cooperation and to uphold the world’s rules-based order.
“The G20 is such an important body. It represents 85 per cent of global GDP. And that’s why what happens here matters. It matters at home as well, because we know that inflation is a global problem. And international engagement is part of the solution. Whether it’s climate change, energy resources, or supply chains being part of these conversations means that Australia gets to shape the solutions. “
It’s economic issues that G20 attendees are now turning their attention to.
For Australia, there’s renewed hope that trade talks on the sidelines of the G20 have been effective, and a new agreement can be reached with Europe soon that satisfies both parties.
“I would like to see the Australia EU free trade agreement settled as soon as possible… But Australia will only sign off – as myself and Don Farrell, the Minister for Trade have said – if it is in Australia’s national interest. Now what was on the table previously didn’t fulfil that criteria.”
The World Bank has also found a renewed enthusiasm for economic change.
Its President, Ajay Banga, says he’s hopeful of charting a new path forward.
“There is a lot of work going on in the World Bank on the reform agenda, it starts from redefining the vision of the bank to not just be focused on poverty – although it is important – but to also include a liveable planet. So the idea is to eradicate poverty on a liveable planet. And by doing that to expand the aperture of our view and to include climate, pandemics, fragility. You know, things that we are living through and which are intertwined with poverty alleviation. It is very difficult to segregate them. The second thing that we are putting in there very clearly is a great emphasis on women and young people.”
Those sentiments would appear to gel neatly with the agenda of the incoming G20 president, Brazil’s Lula Da Silva, who wants to focus on social inequality as well as economic imperatives.
“If we want to make a difference, we have to put the reduction of inequality at the centre of the international agenda, which is why the Brazilian presidency of the G20 has three priorities: social inclusion and the fight against hunger, the energy transition; and sustainable development.”
But politics may still play a defining role.
The World Bank signed an agreement with the Inter American Development Bank at the New Delhi summit, which deepens cooperation on Western Hemisphere development efforts, including the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, Caribbean disaster resilience, and digital access across Latin America.
For some, it’s about the US shaping the institution to act as a counterweight to China’s overseas lending.
But in his public remarks, US President Joe Biden has said moves like this – and now his post G20 visit to Vietnam – is not about getting the upper hand over Beijing.
He says the United States wants to see China succeed economically – if they play fair.
“China is beginning to change some of the rules of the game, in terms of trade and other issues… And so really what this trip is about is less about containing China. I don’t want to contain China. I just want to make sure we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up squared away.”