What is the G20, who belongs to it and what happens at its summits?

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The Group of Twenty (G20), a grouping of the world’s twenty largest

economies, was established in 1999 to bring together major developed and developing countries to discuss international economic and financial stability.

The annual summit of G20 leaders, first held in 2008, has become an important forum for discussing economic and other pressing global issues. Bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit have occasionally led to important international agreements. One of the group’s most impressive achievements was its robust response to the 2008 financial crisis, but since then its cohesion has weakened, and analysts have criticized its lax response to the COVID -19 pandemic.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States clashed with the rest of the group on trade, climate and migration policy. President Joe Biden promised a return to multilateral cooperation and reached a new global agreement on corporate taxation, but tensions have continued to rise as high- and low-income countries have increasingly diverged on key issues. The 2023 summit in New Delhi, India, is expected to address climate change, economic development in low-income countries, and the lingering effects of the war in Ukraine.

Who is a member of the G20?
The G20 is a forum that includes nineteen countries with some of the largest economies in the world, as well as the European Union (EU). The countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Spain is invited as a permanent guest.

Each year, leaders of G20 members meet to discuss mainly economic and financial issues and to coordinate policies on some other issues of common interest. For example, at the 2009 summit, the G20 discussed how to deal with a secret Iranian nuclear facility, and at the 2017 summit, they discussed how to achieve a partial ceasefire in Syria. The G20 is not a permanent institution with a headquarters, offices, or staff. Instead, leadership rotates annually among members, decisions are made by consensus, and implementation of the agenda depends on the political will of individual states.

What were the major issues of contention?
Geopolitical tensions have increased, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but also fueled by strategic competition between China and the United States. Bipartisan legislative initiatives in the United States have sought to deny Russia membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other international organisations. Russia’s presence at the G20 has been contentious, with some Western countries pushing to expel Moscow, despite opposition from members such as China and Brazil.

What occurs on the outskirts of summits?
Some analysts have highlighted the G20’s flexibility in comparison to other multinational institutions, pointing out that it may help shake up an often inflexible geopolitical order. This adaptability extends to summits, where bilateral talks between leaders of state and government frequently focus on matters not on the formal agenda.

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