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The G20 is the premier forum aimed at international economic cooperation comprising twenty of the world’s largest economies. Conceived in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis and representative of 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population, the G20 seeks to balance fairness, global representation and opportunities. The inaugural aim of the G20 was to unite finance ministers and central bankers from twenty of the world’s largest established and emerging economies to discuss international, economic and financial stability, especially among the middle-income countries. A decade later, at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, the G20 was upgraded to include heads of states and government at its first official summit in Washington DC.

The G20 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 (UK), and the United States. Spain is invited as a permanent guest.

The presidency of the G20 rotates on an annual basis among its members. The Troika, or the rotating three-member partnership of the previous, current and incoming presidency, ensures the continuity of the G20 agenda.The decisions on agenda issues are made by consensus of the member states and the implementation depends on the political will of individual states. The processes of the summit are structured by two parallel tracks: the Finance Track and the Sherpa Track. Representatives of the G20 countries, known as ‘Sherpas’, coordinate with the finance ministers and governors of the central banks to yield strategic dividends for all partners. Additionally, Engagement Groups bring together interest-groups to make their respective contributions.

India's presidency of this annual apex-level summit, starting December 2022, coincides with the ‘Troika’ comprising only developing nations—Indonesia, India and Brazil. The summit will be attended by approximately 30 heads of state and government from G20 members and invited countries. This is the moment to shift the focus of the G20 to the Global South.

The broad framework of the G20 outlines an emphasis on macroeconomic policy. Since financial issues bleed into geo-political concerns, the G20 has expanded its ambit to include the future of work, terrorism, and global health as matters of consideration. The agility of the forum has been instrumental in addressing crises throughout the globe. In addition to the impressive and robust response to the 2008 financial crisis, previous summits have also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian civil war and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

During its term, India anticipates to hold more than 200 meetings across 50 cities involving ministers, officials and the civil society, leading up to a marquee summit in the Indian capital of New Delhi in September 2023. As per the government, India’s current G20 priorities include a range of concerns from restoring global macro stability and improving financial inclusion to reforming the multilaterals. More specifically, the agenda includes concerns regarding women’s empowerment, the scaling of digital public infrastructure and tech-enabled development, climate financing, global food security and energy security. Questions of geostrategic equilibrium in times crippled by war, an impending recession, the scourge of debilitating global debt and the climate crisis test the patience of even the most pragmatic of leaders. A host of bilateral talks are scheduled against this backdrop of global tensions. Rightly manoeuvred, this is an opportunity for India to leave an indelible mark on the geopolitical front by rising as a diplomatic powerhouse.

The blog has been co-authored by Cherishi Maheshwari.  

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