India’s capital, New Delhi, is getting completely revamped ahead of the G20 summit on September 9 and 10th.
The Group of Twenty (G20) is considered to be ‘the premier forum for international economic cooperation’. But can there really be cooperation between the embattled G7 countries and the newly-emboldened BRICS members?
19 countries and the European Union form the group: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.
If you take a look at this list, you have the G7 countries and the EU, and you have on the other side 7 BRICS countries.
The G20 members represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population. So if you could get these countries in some form of cooperation that would be an unstoppable force.
The G20 was founded in 1999, after the Asian financial crisis. It was as a forum for the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, but was upgraded to the level of Heads of State or Government in 2007, after the global economic and financial crisis.
Initially, the G20 focused largely on broad macroeconomic issues, but it has expanded its agenda to ‘include trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change, and anti-corruption’.
In this scenario of potential confrontation between the western powers and the emerging economies, one man can make a difference.
G20 host, Indian PM Narendra Modi is riding the middle path, keeping a strong bond with the US while at the same time fully engaged in the growth of the BRICS club.
So it’s no wonder that his moves are eagerly observed by everyone, like for example his recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the phone call that Russia will be represented by its foreign minister at the G20 summit in New Delhi.
“Putin told Modi Russia would be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to a statement from the Indian government.
‘While expressing an understanding for Russia’s decision, PM thanked President Putin for Russia’s consistent support to all initiatives under India’s G20 Presidency’, the Indian government said.”
Russia has lately worked to strengthen the already warm ties with India, a major buyer of its oil.
“‘Topical issues of Russian-Indian relations, which are progressively developing in the spirit of a particularly privileged strategic partnership, were considered (in the call)’, the Kremlin said in a statement.”
Russia and India launched lunar probes in August, but only the Indian mission landed successfully on the moon, while the Russian craft crashed.
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Also meriting the attention of the world is his relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, after the impromptu bilateral meeting in the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.
Modi’s exchange with Xi Jinping may signal official interest in rebooting a financial relationship paralyzed by the 2020 border tensions. And maybe developments can be expected during the G20.
Modi has made clear that a deepening financial relationship with China is dependent on normalized political ties.
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Meanwhile, India is preparing itself for the arrival of the greatest political figures in the planet.
“Ahead of the preparations for the G20 Summit in Delhi, around 3,500 hotel rooms have been booked across the big and small hotels in Delhi […] to accommodate the VVIP delegates of the summit, according to a report.
More than 10,000 hospitality professionals have been directed to be present in the 30 prominent hotels around central and south Delhi, Aerocity and Gurugram hotels to serve the delegates, reported the Times of India.
Several luxury hotels have been booked to host different delegates. United States President Brandon is expected to stay at ITC Maurya while the President of China, Xi Jinping, will be staying at Taj Palace. Apart from this, other hotels like Shangri La’s Eros will be hosting UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German delegates while The Imperial will be accommodating the Australian Prime Minister and Indonesian delegates.”
With the massive influx of the most important dignitaries in the world, security is, of course, maximum priority. And India is taking it extra-seriously.
Times of India reported:
“The security establishment will place covert “House Intervention Teams” or HIT squads inside all city hotels with G20 guests to deal with any hostage crisis during the summit, sources said on Monday.
They will be activated on specific instructions from the highest level in extreme situations and will have kill orders.”
Commandos from the National Security Guard and Delhi Police are involved, with ‘skills for fighting in built-up areas and in urban warfare’. Trained in house intervention, they are able to storm confined spaces to neutralize terrorists and rescue hostages, if needed.
“The squads will be different from the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams stationed outside the hotels to counter any threat on the streets, the official added.
‘They are a major component of the G20 security apparatus. These teams will be placed strategically inside every hotel to counter hostage situations or lone-wolf attacks. They will be stationed in one of the rooms at the centre of the hotel with just the venue commander aware of their position’, a senior intelligence officer said.”
With so many world leaders, it’s difficult to track every one of the particular agendas for the Summit.
But British PM Rishi Sunak, a man from Indi-Punjabi descent, is for sure a focus of interest, as he reconnects with his roots while negotiating a UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India during his stay in Delhi.
But not all is well, as MPs have called for him to be more open about his wife’s financial interests ahead of the FTA.
“British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a new conflict of interest, days before he is all set to attend the G20 summit in New Delhi in September. The conflict relates to transparency questions related to wife Akshata Murthy’s Infosys shares – massive Bengaluru-based international IT services and consultancy company, worth an estimated 500 million pounds, in a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with India.”
Infosys could be a key beneficiary of any agreement signed with India, benefitting the PMs wife.
“Sunak, who is all set to attend the G20 Summit in Delhi in September, is expected to discuss the UK-India trade negotiations in a separate bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Labour opposition have gone so far as to suggest the British PM should recuse himself from the trade negotiations altogether.
Another country trying to branch out is South Korea. Speculation is growing over a possible summit between President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Xi Jinping in the coming months.
The most immediate opportunity, of course, will present itself in the Group of 20 Summit.
Korea Times reported
“Neither of the leaders officially announced that they would attend the multilateral event, with China appearing to exploit the uncertainty to maximize its leverage. Xi had a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, but China did not confirm whether Xi will travel to India for the G20 Summit.
[…] A South Korean government source said, ‘Talks have been going on for another summit between Presidents Yoon and Xi, but it remains uncertain when and where this will be realized’.
Japanese news outlets also reported throughout this month that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is seeking a summit with Xi on the occasion of the G20 Summit. If a summit takes place between China and Japan in New Delhi, chances of South Korea having one during the event will also increase.”
From China’s perspective, the recent Camp David summit between South Kora, Japan and the US can be seen as ‘a clear sign that South Korea is titling its foreign policy toward the U.S. over China’.
Lee Dong-gyu, Asan Institute for Policy Studies:
“If the summit takes place, Xi is anticipated to emphasize cooperation and solidarity between Asian countries, excluding the US. Given the current situation, however, that won’t be an agreeable agenda for South Korea.”
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