What to look out for at the G20 summit 2017

4 Jul 2017


On the 7th and 8th of July in Hamburg, Germany, over twenty countries, including the U.K, will attend the G20 summit. Chaired by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, it will be the twelfth summit of its kind and will see leaders all across the world come together to discuss global issues.



What will be discussed?


Notably on the economic front, the G20 summit is all about promoting globalisation. Naturally, Donald Trump’s protectionist policies are likely to be of grave concern to participating countries when it comes to trade talks. However, only time will tell whether President Trump’s campaign spiel and ‘America First’ policy will actually materialise into anything substantial.


The huge variety of countries is such that there is a huge variety of economies. Countries with emerging economies like Brazil, Indonesia, India and Turkey will be looking to align themselves with the advanced economies present to boost prosperity and improve their economic success. Economic regulations and measures continue to be put in place to strengthen the global markets in an effort to reduce the risk of another financial crisis. Discussions on these regulations will take place such that they benefit all economies not just the advanced, or just the emerging, ones. Finally, on the aspect of the economy there will be an important focus on employment. Again, tying into globalisation the countries of the G20 will discuss ways to improve private sectors within their respective countries so that jobs are created, supply chains are improved and fortified and growth can occur.


On the issue of climate change the G20 wants to go “beyond the ratification” of the Paris Agreement, a climate accord between 195 countries on dealing with greenhouse gases and climate change on an international scale.  As priorities go it seems a sensible one for some of the most accomplished and growing countries in the world but the elephant in the room will be once again be Trump’s America. By taking America out of the Paris Agreement all eyes will be on the President when it comes to these discussions. What will he agree to? How will he act? Will he even be interested in negotiations?


For the developing nations within the group, especially for the representative of the African Union, there will be a strong focus on health. After the Ebola crisis it seems an epidemic is more realistic than ever. Thus it is not surprising that the most powerful countries in the world will be discussing ways to improve healthcare across the globe and ensure that if there is an outbreak of a disease, there are plans in place to safeguard a worldwide catastrophe.


“Assuming Responsibility” lies as the final title of the priorities of the G20 summit this year. It mainly comes down to assuming responsibility for refugees and assuming responsibility about terrorism. In many ways the two are linked. The European Migrant Crisis effectively started in 2015 but had been growing since before that. It seems almost ridiculous that it is still carrying on to this day. With the rise of Islamic State and ongoing civil war in Syria more and more refugees are fleeing the Middle-East to Europe. Two days is in no way enough time to solve this problem on its own, let alone the fact that there is a multitude of issues to be discussed.


The impression that “assuming responsibility” is that it will mainly be about shifting blame from one country to another. On the flip side, and slightly less cynically, the UK, France and Germany have all experienced terrorism on home soil and will be keen to see an international attempt to address extremism both home grown and from abroad.


When it comes to the civil war in Syria all eyes will be on Russia and the USA as to whether they can come to an agreement on how to deal with President Assad and his dictatorial rule over the country. Overall, the collaboration between the G20 countries on the terrorism and refugees is essential. Whether it is possible is anybody’s guess.



What tensions could make or break this conference’s success?


To start with Theresa May will be battling with her European counterparts and the likes of Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Junker. With the UK’s exit out of the European Union, the United Kingdom will need to work hard to prove itself as a powerful separate entity that has the right to a seat at the table let alone an important opinion.


Donald Trump will come face to face with Vladimir Putin for the first time. The world will be watching of course, but more importantly those against Trump in America will be keen to see how the pair act together especially in light of the investigation into links between Trumps presidential campaign and Russian authorities.


Trump will also be meeting China’s leader, Xi Jingping for the second time. Trump’s China policy is very much up in the air but economically he has made it very clear he does not believe China is good for American workers.


The 7th and 8th of July should prove to be an exciting time for international politics. The role of the UK seems, at this point in time, to be low key. However, with such important issues tabled for discussion, it is unlikely Theresa May will sit back and relax. It is important to remember she has a point to prove. If she can be seen to be an active member on the global stage she might just gain back some previously lost credibility. Ultimately, it is summits like this one that can be extremely positive for global success economically, socially and in solving the toughest world problems. If Theresa May can be at the forefront of this, she could put herself in a much better position domestically.


A full document of the “Priorities of the 2017 G20 Summit” can be found here.


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