G20 meets in Indonesia at the moment of greatest internal division in the group's history

Created in 1999 to be a space for increasing economic cooperation between the countries with the highest GDPs in the world, the G20 will have its meeting summit in Bali, Indonesia, between Tuesday (15) and Wednesday (16), perhaps at the time of greater fragmentation of the group.

If there was already skepticism due to the lack of results from the last meetings, which went beyond economic issues and started to include other topics, such as climate change, the prospect of achieving major goals became almost null due to the war in Ukraine, triggered by the Russian invasion in February of this year.

OG20 brings together the 1999 the world’s largest economies, plus the European Union, and the European bloc and American allies have imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow for its aggression against the neighboring country. On the other hand, China and India began to import more oil from Russia, alleviating part of the effects of the West’s economic responses and deepening the internal cracks of the G20.

Indonesia, host of this year’s summit, tried to ease these tensions: President Joko Widodo visited both Kyiv and Moscow in June and invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend the summit.

However, the government of Ukraine called for the expulsion of Russia from the G20 and the withdrawal of the invitation to President Vladimir Putin. Indonesia’s official position is that it is not up to the temporary presidency of the G20 to decide to expel members from the group – a consensus would be needed among the other members.

A few days before the start of the summit, Russia ended weeks of speculation and announced that Putin will not go to Bali – the country will be represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov.

The States States also have profound differences with two other members of the G20, China and Saudi Arabia. With Beijing, the differences that were previously restricted to trade disputes and demands on human rights also moved to the military sphere, due to the threats of the Chinese dictatorship to invade Taiwan, with which the Americans have a defense commitment (on Monday, the eve of the opening of the G meeting20, Joe Biden will have his first face-to-face conversation with the dictator Xi Jinping since he assumed the American presidency).

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, irritated Washington because in October the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries with the addition of Russia (OPEC+) decided to cut world production by 2 million barrels per day, which represents 2% of what is produced worldwide.

The Biden administration considers that, in addition to harming the fight against inflation, the measure was a nod to Russia, since an increase in oil prices would help in its war against Ukraine. In practice, Saudi Arabia leads OPEC+.

In an interview with Reuters, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi admitted that preparations for the G20 are more challenging than the meetings of recent years.

“The Indonesian presidency is perhaps one of the most difficult of all G20, because of geopolitical, economic and other issues,” he said.

No joint communiqués

This year, the group did not issue joint communiqués at several meetings, including the one of foreign ministers held in July.

With this recent past and the differences made explicit over the past year, the likelihood of such a document type is unlikely in Bali, but Marsudi stressed that, more important than having a joint communiqué, is that it has content.

“Whatever name it adopts, it will contain the political commitments of the leaders . For us, it’s better to focus on the content. In the end, the content speaks more”, he argued.

In a statement released in early November, the Council of Councils, composed of 28 large institutes of studies of public policies of several countries, highlighted that the summit of the G20 should seek three actions so that the group regains credibility at this time: seek ways to have peace in Ukraine; improve the coordination of its members’ monetary policies; and take significant steps to help the developing world.

“G20 leaders should re-establish the forum’s image as a crisis committee before discussing a more ambitious global economic governance agenda”, recommended the council, in an excerpt from the communiqué signed by Ye Yu, deputy director of the Institute of World Economic Studies and a member of the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies.

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