Shortcuts / 05 September 2023

The 2023 G20 summit

The G20 is meeting this weekend in India’s New Delhi, and it’s a big opportunity for world leaders to get into some big issues. So in this Squiz Shortcut, we get you across what the G20 is, what it aims to achieve, and what members including Oz are hoping to get out of this year’s summit.

Why is it called the G20?
It stands for the Group of 20, which is a collection of 19 nations including the United States, China, India, Russia, Germany and Japan – plus the European Union.

So it’s a forum of the world’s biggest economies?
Some emerging economies like Argentina and South Africa are a part of it too, and altogether G20 nations are responsible for over 80% of the world’s economic output.

And those nations work together on economic matters?
Ding ding ding… The G20 was set up in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis by the G7, which is a forum for the world’s biggest economies to get together and coordinate their policies. Back then, it was called the G8 because Russia was still involved…

How often do G20 leaders meet?
They hold a summit every year. This year’s meeting is being held in India, which currently holds the presidency. And it’s not just about the leaders – there are G20 meetings of finance ministers and central bank officials that happen throughout the year

How does the G20 presidency work?
It rotates every year among each of the members. The country that holds the presidency gets to set the agenda for the year and host all the summits.

What happens during these summits?
The main thing you see headlines about is the joint statement, or ‘communique’, that is agreed upon and released by all members of the G20 at the end of each summit.

So all the nations have to agree?
And it doesn’t always work out… Whenever you get world leaders together, there’s always going to be some politics thrown in, and ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine G20 nations have struggled to agree on a communique.

Give us an example…
So last year, the US wanted the G20 to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia wouldn’t agree to that, and neither would China – so instead, a leaders’ declaration was issued that wasn’t signed by all members.

And is this year’s meeting also set to get a little prickly?
It looks that way… A week out from this year’s leader’s summit in India, unconfirmed reports have said Chinese President Xi Jinping isn’t going to attend and China’s Premier Li Qiang will go in his place. It would be the first time that any Chinese leader has skipped a G20 summit, and analysts say it’s a shot at India.

How’s that?
So China and India aren’t the best of friends, and years of tensions boiled over in a border conflict in 2020. Xi’s avoidance of that summit would be a big statement and a spanner in the works for this year’s G20, whose theme is ‘One Earth, One Family’.

Yep, and Xi’s non-attendance at the G20 could also be considered a cold shoulder to the US President Joe Biden. Biden has confirmed he’ll be in India for the summit, and said he hoped to see Xi there to help thaw the US-China relationship after years of tensions.

So that doesn’t look set to happen?
Nope, and neither does a G20 meeting between Xi and our PM Anthony Albanese to try and address some of our longstanding issues. But Albanese might have another chance to talk to Xi face-to-face soon – he’s set to visit Beijing later this year.

China aside, what’s the main focus of this year’s G20 summit?
India’s PM Narendra Modi has said in recent weeks that the G20 should invite the African Union to become a full member of the G20. That’s a proposal that US President Joe Biden already made last year.

Why’s that?
South Africa is the continent’s only G20 member so there’s been growing talk about getting larger nations connected with the so-called ‘Global South’. That term largely refers to developing nations in the Southern Hemisphere including in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Anything else to look out for during the summit?
Another big theme will be the language around Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. Similarly to what’s been happening over the past few years, the US and its allies will be continuing to push to make a statement condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. But Putin himself won’t be there – he has an international arrest warrant out against him, so he’s staying put in Russia for the moment.

What has Modi had to say about Russia?
He wants the war to end but he hasn’t been critical of Russia since its invasion of Ukraine began, and India is still a major consumer of Russian oil. Modi also says he wants the G20 forum to focus on its economic mission rather than making political statements.

So we’ll have to wait and see whether leaders can get a communique over the line…
That’s right, and look at you using all those fancy terms…

Squiz Shortcuts - A weekly explainer on a big news topic.

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.