It is important that the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit be a success. It must help ‘reenergise’ the G20, because the world needs an effective G20. But there is more at stake for Australia. If the G20 is not effective, any alternative forum for international economic cooperation would likely exclude Australia.
For the Brisbane summit to be a success, Australia will need to improve the way the G20 works, define a focused agenda and directly engage leaders. A pragmatic, business-like approach is required. Most importantly, the Brisbane summit must achieve tangible, meaningful outcomes.
The overall objective should be to continue the quest for stronger, more sustainable and more equitable economic and jobs growth. To give substance to these objectives, the Brisbane summit must make progress on some difficult, but important, international economic issues. Priorities should include:
- Developing a clearer, more consistent and more coordinated strategy for restoring global growth. The G20 no longer has a consistent growth narrative. An outcome from the Brisbane summit should be the ‘G20 Coordinated Growth Strategy’.
- Breathing life into the multilateral trading system. In a world that may be dominated by mega-regional trading blocs, the Brisbane summit should begin the process of resurrecting the multilateral trading system.
- Tackling climate change financing so as to build momentum for the climate change negotiations in 2015. The G20 cannot do the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but it has to get serious on climate change.
- Delivering tangible progress on the international effort to combat tax evasion and avoidance. This was a major outcome from St. Petersburg and involved the endorsement of high-level principles. The ball has been passed to Australia and it has to show progress on what is a complex and contentious issue.
- ‘Mainstreaming’ development into the G20 agenda and not treating it as an ‘add-on’.
To achieve outcomes in these areas will require a strategic game plan and a major, coordinated 12-month campaign. Australia will need a good ‘playbook’ for the Brisbane summit to be a success.