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The Importance of Implementation in China’s 2016 G20 Agenda

Research Report by John Kirton, Co-director, G20 Research Group
December 3, 2015

On December 1, 2015, the day China assumed the presidency of the G20 for 2016, the country got off to a fast start on its hosting duties by mounting on its G20 website a detailed 17-page statement to the Hangzhou Summit it will host on September 4-5, 2016. After a preface signed by President Xi Jinping, it announced the summit’s theme as “Towards an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.” It identified the content of each of these component four Is. But throughout the statement, a fifth I stood out ^mdash; implementation. Indeed the statement in its conclusion proclaimed: “The G20 Summit in 2016 will continue to implement these commitments, by turning consensus into actions and strengthening accountability and assessment, in order to maintain the G20’s credibility and effectiveness and make greater contribution to world economic growth.”

The December statement made a robust number of 19 direct references to implementation and accountability (see Appendix A). They appeared in all components of the statement, starting in the preface signed by Xi Jinping, continuing in “The Theme of the Summit” and “The Key Agenda Items,” and concluding with “An Action-Oriented G20.” These arose in virtually all sections of the agenda: growth, international financial architecture, financial reform, tax, anti-corruption, trade and investment, development, food and nutrition, climate finance, and industrialization in Africa. Some had “implementation” in the titles of the sections themselves. This was a much bigger, broader ambition than that of the Antalya Summit, which, despite having implementation as one of its three thematic Is, in practice focused its actual accountability work only on the specific issue of economic growth and the Brisbane Action Plan from 2014 (Kirton and Kulik 2015).

These passages focused on a broad range of issue, not just a few key ones of particular importance to China and the G20 such as the undelivered 2010 commitment on voice and vote reform at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Moreover, Xi Jinping ambitiously promised implementation not only of commitments from the previous year’s 2015 summit in Antalya, but also those made by all G20 summits since their start in 2008. The statement, in highlighting development, went well beyond a concern with implementing the G20’s own commitments to declare its solemn responsibility for implementing those of the key 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development approved in September 2015 by the leaders of the world as a whole.

Above all, the statement promised to introduce and approve accountability mechanisms to improve implementation. Specifically it pledged to “strengthen the evaluation and monitoring on implementation” and, most generally, do so by “strengthening accountability and assessment.”

In only two instances, however, did it specify how this improved accountability was to be accomplished, both by using existing component within the G20 institutional structure: these were to use the “3-year accountability report mechanism” and the “Trade Ministers’ meeting and several Trade and Investment Working Group Meetings.” Yet the scale and scope of the accountability ambitions clearly point to a need for much more than that. It is thus important to design and deliver the augmented accountability mechanisms to assist Xi Jinping and his G20 colleagues achieve the important priority of implementation that they have correctly put at centre stage of their summit in 2016.


Kirton, John and Julia Kulik (2015), Advancing Accountability for Achievement: Improving Implementation of the G20’s Growth Agenda,” Monitor 16 (March). http://www.lowyinstitute.org/files/kirton_advancing_accountability_for_development_and_growth.pdf

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Appendix A: Implementation/Accountability References in “G20 Summit 2016, China”

Direct reference to “implement/implementation” and “accountability” in G20 Summit 2016, China, December 1, 2015. Direct quotations are below. Numbers added. Unit of analysis is the sentence.

Preface by Xi Jinping
1. We should pool wisdom, form synergy, implement the outcomes of the Antalya Summit and all previous summits …

Theme and Key Agenda Items
2. (Para 2) In 2016, China will work together with other members to consolidate and strengthen the partnership within the G20, to fully implement the commitments at the Antalya and the previous summits, to improve the effectiveness of the G20 in decision-making and implementation.

Lifting Mid-to-Long Term Growth Potential
3. Based on members’ individual experiences. G20 could summarize some useful guiding principles of structural reform at the G20 and further strengthen the evaluation and monitoring on implementation of reform commitments.

Improving International Financial Architecture to meet Future Challenges
4. The G20 should continue to promote the reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions, by implementing the 2010 IMF quota and governance reform …

Continuing Financial Sector Reforms
5. In order to enhance the stability and resilience of global financial system, the G20 needs to continue the reforms in global financial sector, implementing standards and rules already agreed…

Improving International Tax Regime
6. While implementing the outcomes of the international tax agenda (e.g. BEPS project) and the consensus reached in other tax related arenas …

Implementing Consensus on Anti-Corruption
7. The G20 should continue to implement the Two-Year Action Plan on Anti-Corruption, particularly in terms of strengthening practical cooperation in areas such as denial of safe haven to corrupt officials, recovery of the proceeds of corruption, and repatriation of corrupt officials, which should be prioritized in G20’s future work.

Reinforcing Trade and Investment Cooperation Mechanism
8. In order to implement the above-mentioned consensus on trade ministers’ meeting and its supporting working group and take full advantage of G20 members as major global trading nations, in 2016, China will hold a Trade Ministers’ meeting and several Trade and Investment Working Group Meetings.

Inclusive and Interconnected Development
9. The UN Sustainable Development Summit has endorsed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development … These are solemn commitments made by our leaders, which must be fully implemented.

10. In 2015, while continuing to progress on these issues, the G20 accorded special attention to low income and developing countries, SMEs, energy access in Africa as well as women and youth employment, demonstrating the G20’s determination in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and deepening cooperation on development.

Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
11. As the premier forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 members should take the lead in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

12. Base don’t he real needs of countries, especially the developing countries, in implementing the 2030 Agenda, the G20 should take its unique advantage to a package of solutions to real problems.

13. In this regard, China suggests the G20 members develop national plans for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, based on which a G20 collective action plan could be collated to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

Optimizing G20 Development Co-operation Agenda
14. Second, policy coordination should be enhanced between DWG and other G20 work streams. On the basis of the 3-year accountability report mechanism, it is important to clarify the division of labor, optimize the use of resources and better reflect the development elements in all tracks of work

Promoting Accessible, Affordable and Sustainable Energy Supply
15. The G20 should implement the principles of Energy Collaboration and strengthen cooperation on energy access…

Improving Food Security and Nutrition
16. The G20 should implement previous commitments on food security and nutrition, …

Mobilizing Climate Finance
17. As parties to the UNFCCC, G20 members should follow the principles and rules of the UNFCCC, take active measures to implement the outcomes of the COP21 on climate financing and others …

Supporting Industrialization in Africa and Other Developing countries
18. The international community should take actions to support Africa’s industrialization, and help Africa create jobs, eradicate poverty, enhance capacity building, achieve sustainable self-development, and implement the 2013 Agenda.

An Action-Oriented G20
19. The G20 Summit in 2016 will continue to implement these commitments, by turning consensus into actions and strengthening accountability and assessment, in order to maintain the G20’s credibility and effectiveness and make greater contribution to world economic growth.

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