President Trump is taking his second trip abroad this week as he heads to Germany for the G20 summit. Here is what you should know about the year’s most important global economic meeting.
What is the G20 summit?
The G20 Summit is an annual informal forum that includes 20 of the world’s major economies, known collectively as the G20, G-20, or Group of Twenty. The G20 was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
What issues are discussed at the summit?
The G20 started in 1999 as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. Since the global financial crisis in 2008, though, the focus has expanded to include “working to strengthen the resilience of the global financial system and to improve the regulation and supervision of financial market participants, including what is known as the shadow banking system. The aim is to ensure that no financial market, financial market participant or financial product remains unsupervised.”
The summits have traditionally focused on issues relating to financial market regulation, global economic growth, and international trade. But almost anything of global significance that is closely linked with economic questions may be considered. For example, this year’s summit may include discussions about climate change, development policy, labor market and employment policy, the spread of digital technology, migration and refugee flows, and counter-terrorism.
What countries comprise the G20?
The G20 includes the European Union (EU) and 19 individual countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Several international organizations also regularly participate in the G20 summits, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN). Each hosting country can also invite other countries, regional organizations, and international organizations to the summit.
Who represents these countries at the summit?
Each country is represented by their head of government, finance minister, and governor of the central bank. For the United States, the representatives are President Trump, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and Janet Yellen, the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The EU is represented by the heads of the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
How is the G20 organized?
The G20 has no permanent staff or organization, but rather rotates annually among the members. Each member is assigned to one of five groups to ensure a “regional balance over time”: Group 1 includes Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the United States; Group 2 includes India, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey; Group 3 includes Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico; Group 4 includes France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom; Group 5 includes China, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.
A revolving three-member management group of past, present, and future chairs, referred to as the “Troika”, ensures continuity.
Where is the current G20, and where were they held in the past?
Germany assumed the G20 Presidency for 2017 and will host the Summit of the Heads of State and Government on Friday and Saturday in Hamburg.
Previous hosts of the G20 Leaders’ Summit were the United States (in 2008 and 2009), the United Kingdom (2009), Canada (2010), the Republic of Korea (2010), France (2011), Mexico (2012), Russia (2013), Australia (2014), Turkey (2015), and China (2016). Argentina will host in 2018.
Joe Carter is an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College, an editor for several organizations, and the author of the NIV Lifehacks Bible.
Photo Credit: President Barack Obama, left, at the G20 Summit opening Plenary Session at the Toronto Convention Center, Toronto, Canada on June 27, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Obama White House Archive.