A look at the G20

Being a resident in the city of Brisbane meant that I got caught right in the centre of all the G20 action last weekend.

Besides all the spectacular light displays and cultural performances that kept locals and international guests entertained, there were obviously more important reasons why several world leaders, representing 19 major economies as well as the European Union (EU), descended upon the sunny Australian state of Queensland.

The G20, also known as the Group of 20, represents a contingent that accounts for 85 per cent of the world’s economy and more than 75 per cent of world trade. Pretty BIG business I’d say.

This year Australia was host to the leaders summit after being given the G20 presidency for 2014.

SO… here are some interesting details about the latest G20.

What is the G20?

The G20 is an annual summit where member countries meet to discuss economic cooperation. This year, more than 5,300 delegates from G20 members and invitee countries held various meetings at the summit HQ, Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, to talk about promoting world economic growth by: strengthening the private sector, putting measures in place to lessen the impacts of global recession, and promoting global institutions.

Who are the G20 members?

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

This year Mauritania, Myanmar, New Zealand, Senegal, Singapore and Spain were invited by G20 members to attend the leaders’ summit in Brisbane.

Which G20 leaders took centre stage?

Discussions and decisions surrounding politics and economics are usually – if not always – complicated. So imagine when you have several world leaders sitting in a room together. Enough said.

If you want to start with the controversial, Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s presence at the G20 definitely received much media attention. Why? The recent downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels killed 298 civilians, including 38 Australian citizens and residents (the US, Australia and the UK claim their is strong intelligence to suggest Russia provided the weaponry that shot down the plane). So it’s no wonder there was some protest over Putin’s presence at the G20 in Australia.

If you want to know which G20 leader had the most charisma, I think it would be a hard pick between US president Barack Obama and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi. Some leaders just have ‘it’ and people can’t quite put their finger on what ‘it’ is exactly. Obama’s passionate speech at the University of Queensland definitely left its mark on the hearts and minds of Australians, young and old. His comedic references to Aussie culture, his idealism and – probably more significantly – his ability to communicate and draw Australians to share his vision is pretty amazing … if only these sentiments were shared by the majority of his own countrymen and women. Shame. On the other hand, Modi has been dubbed a ‘rock star’ by Australian press, after seeing the dedication and enthusiasm of the Indian diaspora in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. The love that so many Indian Australians have for Modi is simply unreal. In my opinion, I think Modi takes out the ‘most charismatic’ leader award here simply because he is widely popular in and outside his country.

If we’re talking business, you can give China’s president Xi Jinping a nod following the announcement of the Australia-China free trade agreement. From what I can tell people are quite divided about who the real winners and losers are. Some think the removal of tariffs in the agriculture and the resources industries means more jobs for Aussies in the future (since more demand for Australian products means an expansion of the workforce to produce and meet that demand), while others see the deal as a loss as Australian jobs could be moved offshore to China. What are your predictions?

What did the G20 actually achieve?

It’s still early days to say if this year’s G20 has achieved much (since the point of the leaders summit was to draft the economic goals it hopes to achieve in the next year or so) but you can read the G20 Leader’s Communique, which basically summarises the main goals.

Goals such as creating more transparent economic structures, cracking down on tax havens, women in the workforce, climate change and free trade agreements were but a few of the issues addressed at the summit, with the hopes of achieving a global GDP growth of 2.1 per cent.

To conclude Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the G20 had delivered “real, practical outcomes” and as a result “people right around the world are going to be better off”.

Let’s hope so.

Tell SO… which points of the G20 Leader’s Communique you think are key for the development of the world economy.

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