SAIIA, DNA Economics and Tutwa Consulting are extremely pleased to be starting a new project on Global Economic Governance and Africa, the second phase of a project SAIIA ran from 2012-2015. The project is hiring a researcher.
A new project, coordinated by SAIIA, is exploring how multilateral trade negotiations can be revitalised to overcome both existing and emerging challenges.
On 31 March 2015, the South African Institute of International Affairs hosted a G-20 Study Group on 'Turkey and the G-20 Presidency: Implications for Africa.'
In July 2014, the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), announced the creation of a new, US$100 billion New Development Bank to lend money to developing nations for investments. There is much speculation about the role the Bank might play, and the motivations of the BRICS members in establishing it.
The summit released a range of action plans that aim to coordinate the action of the G20 countries and partner organizations:
Beyond the coordination of G20 activities, the declaration made extensive reference to international organisations and their work. These partner organisations include the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and numerous others. Indeed, large parts of the declaration seem to build directly on the work by these organisations. This highlights the G20’s commitment to acting as coordinating body for the pre-existing array of International Organisations. However, it also points to the G20s weak institutional capacity to act independently, and raises questions as to whether the G20 guides or follows these international bodies – whether it is dog or tail.
A list of selected G20 areas of cooperation and coordination are as follows:
The declaration makes no specific mention of Africa, and includes limited mention of African organisations, with the exception of the African Development Bank and a broad reference to regional trade agreements. Despite this, the summit covered a wide range of issues, many of which are of vital importance to African concerns.
The St Petersburg Development Outlook perhaps best demonstrates this focus, and concerns itself with six areas of relevance to African countries:
While the Development Outlook covers many issues of vital importance to Africa and developing countries in general, it should be noted that the Outlook is primarily a refining of pre-existing programmes, with new initiatives mainly taking the form of knowledge sharing. Few concrete, material commitments are contained within the Development Outlook, although such commitments may be possible in the ensuing work of related bodies.
More broadly, the Summit Declaration touches on many areas of importance to African states. Given the reliance on Africa on the state of the global economy, all issues discussed within the declaration are indirectly relevant to the continent, but six should be noted:
Point 2 is perhaps worth special mention. The summit took place against the back-drop of currency instability in large emerging markets, such as South Africa and India, driven by concerns that a weakening of monetary stimulus in advanced economies, particularly the United States, could slow credit-driven growth in emerging markets. These concerns were acknowledged by the communiqué, and it was emphasised that monetary policy will continue to be focused on the domestic price stability and growth. However there was little practical effort made to address these concerns, barring a call to carefully communicate and calibrate monetary policy actions. While the tapering has since been delayed, a more comprehensive response to this issue was perhaps needed to alleviate developing country, and African, concerns.
Few major administrative actions were taken during the St Petersburg Summit. Some of the existing institutional arrangements, such as the G20 Task Force on Employment, had their mandate renewed for a further year, while others were modified slightly, for example with adjustments made to the operational practices of the Development Working Group, which is set to move to a more limited but focused agenda on a few key areas, and will seek to improve coordination, accountability and engagement in work between countries and international organisations. Finally, a joint meeting of Labour and Employment and Finance Ministers was held for the first time, as part of the employment creation agenda.
The declaration also made note of administrative changes in key partner organisations. The declaration welcomed the establishment of the Financial Stability Board as an independent legal entity, while urging continued reviews of the structure of its representation. The summit also called for continued efforts to reform the governance of the International Monetary Fund, particularly the ratification of the 2010 IMF Quota and Governance Reform, which should be addressed during the 2014 General Quota Review.
As with other accords, the declaration carefully and consistently notes that all actions are to be undertaken on the basis of willful cooperation and national action, thus demonstrating their respect for the principle of sovereignty. The declaration acknowledges that plans to promote employment must be tailored to each country’s specific constitutional and material circumstances, reinforcing the principle of non-discrimination. Finally, the declaration makes consistent note of the need for growth to be sustainable, and dedicates sections to green growth and investment, thus indicating an acknowledgement of the principle of Environmental Responsibility.
The summit declaration encompassed a broad range of goals that reflects the continuing evolution of the G20, from a crisis management body to a forum for cooperation to promote economic growth and development. While the declaration emphasized the need to build a durable recovery from the crisis, the core stated aim of the declaration was the broader mandate of achieving strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. The creation of jobs was given particular emphasis within this broad aim, as countries struggle to address rising unemployment, particularly amongst the youth.
These aims are set to be met by a number of more specific goals aimed at a broad range of issues. These include, but are not limited to: insuring long term finance for development and investment, promoting multilateral (and, to a lesser extent, plurilateral) trade, promoting tax transparency and fighting tax avoidance, strengthening the resilience of the international financial system, promoting environmentally sustainable growth, combatting corruption, and pursuing a collection of development goals collectively known as the St Petersburg Development Outlook. The Development Outlook includes areas of particular importance to developing countries, such as food security, infrastructure development, financial inclusion and human resource development.
The goals reinforce the commitment of the G20 to their stated aim of growth and development for all. While some aims, such as financial regulatory reform, are less pertinent to less developed African states, many of the goals fit those of the continent. The focus on unemployment is particularly important, since this is an issue of primary concern on the African continent. It is, however, uncertain to what extent this stated concern is driven by global, including African considerations, or by the weak employment figures in the G20 countries themselves, particularly Europe. The focus on unemployment may be driven more by incidental shared concerns, which makes it less likely that G20 efforts would place global, including African, interests above sovereign concerns. However, the St Petersburg Development Outlook is a strong Africa-focused addition to the summit goals, and focuses on important issues for the continent.
The GEGAfrica project has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.