G20 Brisbane Summit, 2014: some keynotes

by Leonardo Ramos

In November 15-16, the Group of Twenty (G20) met at Brisbane, Australia, in its ninth leader’s summit. There were some good expectations concerning the summit: the leadership opportunity to Australia, the necessity to promote global growth as well as employment outcomes, and some global security issues: Ukraine and Crimea Crisis, and ISIS/IS/ISIL. The behavior of some G20 members during 2014 seemed to show that such themes would reverberate at Brisbane: Australian presidency “back to basics” position – focusing summit agenda on two main themes: (i) “promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes” and (ii) “making the global economy more resilient to deal with future shocks” (G20, 2014a, p. 3); the condemnation of Russia’s involvement in Crimea crisis by G7 Leaders and the returning with G7 format; pressure over Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to exclude Putin from the Brisbane summit; BRICS foreign ministers joint statement defending Russia presence at Brisbane Summit; and the Turkish important role in G20 troika system – next summit (2015) will be hold at Antalya, Turkey – were some examples of the latter.

Leonardo Ramos[i]

In November 15-16, the Group of Twenty (G20) met at Brisbane, Australia, in its ninth leader’s summit. There were some good expectations concerning the summit: the leadership opportunity to Australia, the necessity to promote global growth as well as employment outcomes, and some global security issues: Ukraine and Crimea Crisis, and ISIS/IS/ISIL.

The behavior of some G20 members during 2014 seemed to show that such themes would reverberate at Brisbane: Australian presidency “back to basics” position – focusing summit agenda on two main themes: (i) “promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes” and (ii) “making the global economy more resilient to deal with future shocks” (G20, 2014a, p. 3); the condemnation of Russia’s involvement in Crimea crisis by G7 Leaders and the returning with G7 format; pressure over Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to exclude Putin from the Brisbane summit; BRICS foreign ministers joint statement defending Russia presence at Brisbane Summit; and the Turkish important role in G20 troika system – next summit (2015) will be hold at Antalya, Turkey – were some examples of the latter.

In its beginning, G20 Leaders’ communiqué recognizes that “risks persist, including in financial markets and from geopolitical tension” (G20, 2014b, §1). Nevertheless, there was no mention to Ukraine, Crimea crisis or ISIS/IS/ISIL. Concerning to Australia presidency priority – raising global economic growth by at least 2% by 2018 –, G20 asked “international organisations, led by the IMF and the OECD” to monitor their compliance with the commitments expressed in Brisbane Action Plan (G20, 2014c, p. 8). However, such commitments are so general that any kind of monitoring or peer review process will be very difficult.

Following the meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (Cairns, 20-21 September), during the G20 summit was created the Global Infrastructure Initiative (GII). It will be supported by the Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) with a four-year mandate, which will “contribute to developing a knowledge-sharing platform and network between governments, the private sector, development banks and other international organizations”. Particularly, it was well received by G20 the World Bank Group’s Global Infrastructure Facility, which would work in a complementary way with the GIH (G20, 2014b, §6-7).

Since G20’s first summit of leaders, in 2008, infrastructure issues have been mentioned in some sense. Nonetheless, even in Seoul summit (2010), when appeared a more robust discussion on development – the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth (G20, 2010) – infrastructure issues were approached closely related to Bretton Woods institutions – and regional development banks – apprehension of it. In this sense, GII-GIH is a very peculiar initiative: if it expresses the continuity of some transformation on the neoliberal model, it is also possible to notice a kind of BRICS reverberation here: particularly, the creation of the BRICS Development Bank and its focus on infrastructure. Which also calls attention to the limited action of the Breton Woods institution and regional development banks on infrastructure issues in the last years (Chin, 2014).

On development, trade and reform of the international financial institutions, there was no news – they have only reaffirmed the necessity to develop an ambitious agenda for development, to implement IMF quota and governance reforms which were agreed in 2010, and also their compromise with free trade benefits. On trade, particularly, because of previous discussions of G20 Trade Ministers, the benefits of global value chains were endorsed, as well as bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements and their relevance to global economic growth and employment outcomes.

The summit main accomplishments were on energy and global health: the G20 Principles on Energy Collaboration and the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan might be remarkable initiatives – despite the fact they were also built on a voluntary basis. Concerning global health, discussions and documents were produced on Ebola and its consequences. In this sense, two things are clear: first, as noted by John Kirton (2014), “Without this action on global health, energy (…), Brisbane by itself could have been the first failed summit”. Second, and more important, structural and relevant themes of the global political economy were not discussed. There was no advance in the global financial architecture reform. On these themes, we must wait for Antalya Summit, 2015 – or maybe the summit in China, in 2016.

References

CHIN, Gregory T. The BRICS-led Development Bank: Purpose and politics beyond the G20. Global Policy, 5 (3), p. 366-373, 2014.

G20.  Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth. 2010. https://www.g20.org/sites/default/files/g20_resources/library/Annex%201%20Seoul%20Development%20Consensus%20for%20Shared%20Growth.pdf

_______. G20 2014: overview of Australia’s presidency. 2014a. https://www.g20.org/sites/default/files/g20_resources/library/2014%20Brisbane/G20Australia2014conceptpaper.pdf

________. G20 Leaders’ communiqué. 2014b. http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2014/2014-1116-communique.html.

_______. Brisbane Action Plan. 2014c. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/shome/Meus%20documentos/Downloads/brisbane_action_plan.pdf

KIRTON, John. A Summit of Small, Selected Success: Deep Disappointment at the Brisbane G20 in 2014. November 16, 2014. http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/analysis/141116-kirton-performance.html.

[i] Lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the PUC Minas and co-director of the Middle Power Research Group (http://potenciasmedias.com/).

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