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The G20 Antalya Summit: Expectations, Results and the Road Ahead

Emma Best, Taylor Grott, Philip Gazaleh, Matthew Gumley and Antonia Tsapralis
G20 Research Group, November 16, 2015

The Run-Up to the Antalya Summit

The Australia's 2014 G20 presidency left a legacy of increased growth with the ambitious 2% growth target that G20 leaders agreed upon at the Brisbane Summit. Turkey's 2015 presidency took Australia's legacy one step further by declaring that its presidency would focus on making sure that growth was also inclusive. The Turkish presidency formulated its priorities based on what it referred to as "the three Is" of inclusiveness, implementation and investment for growth. On December 1, 2014, on commencing its G20 presidency, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated "2015 will be a year where G20 will focus its efforts on ensuring inclusive and robust growth through collective action." The presidency's agenda focused on three pillars: strengthening the global recovery and lifting potential, enhancing resilience, and buttressing sustainability. These pillars included issue areas such as macroeconomic cooperation, employment, trade, development and energy sustainability. Furthermore, Turkey also made it a priority to vocalize the challenges facing low-income developing countries (LIDCs) as one of the defining aspects of its presidency.

As the year progressed leading up to the Antalya Summit on November 15-16, 2015, several engagement groups also expressed their expectations. In a press conference on November 14, the B20 announced recommendations for the G20 leaders to consider. These recommendations covered four areas: ratifying and implementing the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, taking concrete action to increase the participation of youth and women in the labour force; increasing financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and increasing investment in infrastructure projects.

Other engagements groups also came to Antalya with recommendations for G20 leaders. The C20 emphasized the need for the G20 to take definitive action on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and assisting developing countries with the transition toward clean energy. In a press conference on November 16, the C20 stated that at each summit since 2009, the G20 leaders had committed to phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to a total of $452 billion annually. Yet progress has been muted: while some countries have made efforts to eliminate subsidies, most G20 members have failed to take comprehensive action. The C20 emphasized that, with only two weeks until the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December, G20 leaders have an ideal opportunity to demonstrate a strong commitment to reduce subsidies and agree on an ambitious climate change agreement. In addition, the fall in the price of oil presents an ideal opportunity for governments to act, as it would minimize the economic impact of reduced subsidies. However, C20 members nonetheless predicted that the final communiqué would not deliver the commitments necessary to take action in these areas. They said that the draft communiqué, which circulated on the morning of November 16, did not have language strong enough to produce the necessary results. They predicted that "the G20 [would have] missed a gigantic opportunity to do something concrete on climate change."

Delivering on Its Agenda

As has been the case with many G20 summits, current events and crises — particularly those that occur in just before the summit — affect the summit agenda, and this year was no exception. In 2014, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa helped define the focus of the Brisbane Summit. In 2015, the focus of the summit shifted in the days leading up to the leaders' meeting as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, just two days before the summit started.

Prior to the Paris attacks, the only mention of security in the Turkish presidency's priorities for 2015 related to food security, with Prime Minister Davutoglu urging his colleagues to focus instead on inclusive and robust growth. At Antalya, however, press briefings by officials and outreach groups, as well as the leaders themselves, featured condemnations of the attacks, and the media asked a considerable amount of questions about the attacks, the perpetrators, the related refugee crisis and each member's response to these issues. Summit leaders issued a separate statement on terrorism.

However, despite the impact of the November 13 Paris attacks, the G20 leaders did not deviate much from their initial agenda. They once again committed to implementing sustainable and growth-inducing macroeconomic policies while aiming to lift the G20's collective gross domestic product by an additional 2% by 2018. In addition, they emphasized that growth must be inclusive, job-rich and beneficial to all of society.

The communiqué, published at the culmination of the Antalya Summit, delivered on the G20 leaders' promise to emphasize robust and inclusive growth while providing more and better quality jobs. To pursue these objectives, the G20 leaders established an agenda based on Turkey's three Is: implementing past commitments decisively, boosting investments to drive growth and promoting inclusiveness to share the benefits of that growth. Achieving these would drive the world toward strong, sustainable and balanced growth that will increase the prosperity of all people.

While the G20 leaders reiterated their commitment to implementing old promises related to global economic development, they announced new promises related to investment, resilience and sustainability. Commitments related to investment included the development of country-specific investment strategies, guidelines and best practices for public-private partnership models, and supporting SMEs through a host of tools.

To further improve the resilience of financial institutions and overall financial system stability, the G20 leaders finalized the common international standard on total loss-absorbing capacity to help end the risk of financial institutions that are too big to fail. Additional commitments to work on central counterparty resilience, recovery planning and resolvability were highlighted along with an endorsement of the measures developed under the joint project of the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on base erosion and profit shifting project to modernize the international tax system.

Sustainability featured as a crucial issue that emphasized climate change action and cooperation to support a successful outcome of COP21. G20 leaders endorsed the G20 and Low-Income Developing Countries Framework, the G20 Action Plan on Food Security and Sustainable Food Systems, the G20 Energy Access Action Plan: Voluntary Collaboration on Energy Access, and the G20 Toolkit of Voluntary Options for Renewable Energy Deployment. They also committed to reduce food loss and waste and emphasized the needs of smallholder and family farmers, rural women and youth.

In response to the refugee crisis, the G20 leaders committed to further strengthening their response and called on all states to contribute to that response. They also committed to improving preparedness for migration crises and called on states, the private sector and individuals to join international response efforts.

Finally, the G20 leaders acknowledged the internet economy and pledged to bridge the digital divide. They affirmed that no country should conduct or support the theft of intellectual property enabled by information and communications technologies (ICTs). The leaders highlighted the special responsibility of states to promote security, stability and economic ties with other states in the ICT environment.

The Road Ahead: China 2016

Following the successful conclusion of the 2015 Antalya Summit, the G20 now turns to China to maintain the momentum. Chinese president Xi Jinping outlined the key priorities for the G20 and the global economy going forward. These include the need for stable and long-lasting global growth through a proposal that included greater macroeconomic cooperation among G20 members, increased attention to innovation, the importance of an open economy and adherence to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In regards to promoting inclusiveness, China will likely lead the G20 in encouraging greater representation, especially among developing countries, as it has demonstrated with the establishment of the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank.

As the Antalya Summit came to an end, China begins its preparations for the subsequent G20 meeting in 2016. The agenda is expected to continue the ideas set forward by the Turkish presidency, including once again prioritizing inclusiveness, implementation and investment. Whether China can provide the degree of global governance required to ensure a complete global economic recovery, however, remains to be seen.

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