MANILA Food shortages, the price of energy, the war in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear weapons, the climate, inflation, the danger of recession.
There are now huge challenges in the world, the solution of which would require the cooperation of the G20 countries more than ever. However, that is less likely than ever due to geopolitical tensions.
The G20 group of the world’s leading economies will meet from Tuesday to Wednesday 15-16. November on the island of Bali in Indonesia.
It is the first time that the leaders of so many powerful countries have met since the start of the war in Ukraine.
The series of high-profile meetings begins on Monday, when the presidents of China and the United States meet face-to-face for the first time in their current positions.
Here are the five most important expectations regarding the meeting in Bali.
1. China and the USA put the brakes on their hostility
The summit meeting has been successful if it prevents relations from getting worse.
Relations between China and the United States are at their weakest for decades. The countries are fighting a trade war, competing from technological domination (you switch to another service) and are on different sides on the issues of Ukraine, Taiwan and North Korea.
The relations between the two countries slipped to the bottom when the president of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August.
Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden have so far only talked virtually since Biden took over the leadership of the United States in early 2021. Since the start of the corona pandemic, Xi has only traveled outside his home country once.
A dramatic improvement in relations is not expected from Bali. In advance, the most important thing is that the leaders of the countries try to soften the situation and prevent it from turning into an open conflict.
If China agrees to resume meetings and dialogue – which it cut short due to Pelosi’s visit – that is already a positive gesture.
In addition to Taiwan and Ukraine, Biden wants to talk to Xi about North Korea, which the United States suspects is preparing a nuclear test. The US has blamed China and Russia for North Korea protection (you switch to another service).
– China plans to take a big role in this year’s G20 meeting, but the United States will come there with lower expectations, says an Indonesian researcher familiar with the G20 Dandy Rafitrandi.
He works at the Indonesian Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
2. Russia tries to blackmail with grain transport
It will be interesting to see if the Russians meet the Americans – or anyone at all.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin will not arrive at the meeting in Bali and probably will not participate in the discussions even via video link. Russia is represented by the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia is notified in advance (you switch to another service)that it will bring to the G20 meeting a proposal on the export of grain and fertilizers.
The grain agreement concluded between Russia and Ukraine in the summer expires on November 19. Russia has made it clear that it can once again withdraw from the agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey, if its “concerns” are not taken into account.
The agreement is vital because it guarantees grain deliveries from Ukraine to the world via the Black Sea.
Grain transport will probably become the focus of the G20 negotiations, an anonymous European diplomat estimated in October For Reuters (you will switch to another service). According to the diplomat, Russia is using the fate of the agreement as a weapon to extort concessions.
– If Russia brings something to the table, it will of course steal everyone’s attention, Rafitrandi Yelle says via video call.
Russia has announced that it also wants to discuss transporting Russian gas to Europe via Turkey.
Western countries have demanded that Russia be excluded from the G20 group, but Indonesia, the country holding the G20 presidency, has not agreed to it. Indonesia’s devout wish has been that representatives of the United States and Russia would meet in Bali and ease “new cold war (you switch to another service)“.
3. Hopes for Ukraine should not be set high
In practice, China has the leverage.
Hopes have also been fueled for progress in Ukraine’s peace efforts at the G20 meeting.
However, the G20 is an informal discussion group focused on economics, not politics. It does not have the power to force its members like Russia to do something, CSIS researcher Dandy Rafitrandi emphasizes.
The group is also divided. Among the G20 countries, China, India and South Africa abstained from voting last month when the UN General Assembly condemned Russia’s announcement to annex four regions of Ukraine.
The G20 countries also include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and the United States, as well as the EU.
So you shouldn’t have too much hope for Ukraine.
– The preparation of the Ukrainian reconstruction fund could be on the agenda, Rafitrandi reflects.
However, the threat of nuclear weapons dominates the discussions between the heads of state.
China’s Xi made a statement in early November opposes the use of nuclear weapons (you move to another service) in Ukraine. This has been seen as Xi’s harshest criticism of Putin so far.
China has not openly criticized Russia or demanded that it withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
The lobbying of Western countries towards China is certainly strong in Bali. China is the country that would have the most leverage to persuade Russia – also to continue grain deliveries.
Indonesia has also invited Ukraine, whose president, to the summit Volodymyr Zelenskyi participates in the event via video call.
4. Progress can be seen in climate issues
If the G20 stays together, it will already be an achievement.
Overall, expectations for the Bali meeting are low. For example, an official final statement that all countries could stand behind is unlikely.
The success of the meeting is measured by the atmosphere of the bilateral meetings, researcher Rafitrandi believes.
– It is already an achievement that Indonesia keeps the G20 alive. If one of the G7 countries were now president, Russia could have been kicked out and the entire G20 could have collapsed, he says.
The G7 countries are the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Japan and Italy. They are the most developed economies.
Rafitrandi predicts that the G20 countries will be able to find common ground on issues related to the energy transition, climate change and their financing.
5. Developing countries raise their heads
China is expected to speak for poor countries.
The inflation that is raging around the world, i.e. the rise in prices, has caused different countries to resort to different means to tame it.
Coordination would be required from the G20 countries so that the global economy does not slip into recession, says Rafitrandi.
The G20 should also address restrictions that some countries have placed on energy and food exports to protect their own economies.
– I hope that the G20 could prevent the global economy and supply chains from being damaged by such restrictions, he says.
Selfish actions also further widen the gap between rich and poor countries.
Poor countries suffer the most from the ongoing food, energy, corona, inflation and climate crises. They are also threatened by a wave of debt crises.
China is expected to highlight the position of developing countries, researcher Rafitrandi says.
In the future, the G20 group will probably focus more on the problems of developing and emerging economies. After Indonesia, the group will be piloted by India (2023), Brazil (2024) and South Africa (2025).
Xi: China and the US must find ways to get along
Negotiations between the UN and Russia on the Black Sea Grain Agreement have begun in Geneva