The G20 Summit of developed and emerging economies opened on Friday in Osaka
Leaders pose for a photo. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is among eight special guests at this year’s G20 Summit. (Photo: Getty)
During the 2-day summit, participants will discuss trade wars, climate change, innovation, the digital revolution, and sustainable development.
This year’s Summit marks the 20th anniversary of the Group of 20. High on the agenda will be problems which sparked heated debates of last year’s G20 Summit in Argentina.
Aimed at promoting strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth, the Summit is pided into 4 main sessions on the global economy, trade, and investment; innovation and the digital economy; the environment, energy, and climate change; and sustainable development, employment, women, and health care.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said cooperation to maintain and consolidate open and free global trade is the most important challenge of the era. Leaders should assess the risks of central banks’ financial policies and make full use of all policy tools to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth. Japan hopes G20 leaders will agree on the importance of free and fair trade.
Japan also favors building international rules to unlock the digital economy’s potential and ensure the free flow of data. Abe said cross-border data transactions are becoming more popular and might be a growth driver in the future, which is why Japan is pushing this initiative at this year’s Summit.
Trade and data are inseparable from reforming the World Trade Organization. The WTO must be made more relevant to protecting free and fair trade, though the G20 is split on the methods of WTO reform.
Abe also stressed the importance of innovation in addressing global environmental challenges.
The G20 Summit has emerged as one of the world’s most important annual forums. It won’t be easy to achieve breakthrough results. First, the summit is overshadowed by an escalating tariff war between China and the US. Multilateral organizations like the UN and the WTO are facing internal challenges, including US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.
The results of G20 ministerial meetings earlier this year sent signals of instability. G20 leaders are unlikely to commit to rolling back protectionism after last year’s Summit in Buenos Aires, when Washington opposed such a commitment.
Ahead of the G20 Summit, French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out signing any Summit joint statement if it does not clearly spell out anti-climate change actions. Macron was reacting to the unveiling of a draft joint statement that does not fully support the 2015 Paris Agreement. France is concerned about a recurrence of last year’ Summit, where the climate change threat was downplayed.