After the G20 Summit 2019: Conclusion Note
Japan Watch Project Analyst By Reni Juwitasari
The world economies of 20 has just wrapped up the G20 Summit in Osaka, held on 28 – 29 June, 2019. This year, the event was participated by the leaders of 20 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, together with several invited guests, such as the Chairpersons of APEC, ASEAN, African Union, NEPAD, Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, and Vietnam, and representatives from international organizations, such as ADB, IMF, World Bank, Financial Stability Board, WTO, OECD, ILO, WHO, and UN.
On the first day of the meeting, the G20 Leaders were welcomed by the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Abe, as the host of this year’s G20 Summit. The event started with bilateral meetings among G20 countries. As such, for Japan’s side, Abe held a meeting with the President of United States of America, Donald Trump, followed by a meeting with Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, continuously, a meeting with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, and had a pull aside talk with the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo. Likewise Japan, the President of the United States of America also held a meeting with the President of China, Xi Jinping, followed by a meeting with the Prime Minister of India, Narenda Modi. In the afternoon, there was a Leader’s special event on Digital Economy, and the first day event was completed with the cultural program and ceremonial dinner.
On the second day, Japan continued to have bilateral meetings with the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Brazil. Interestingly, the second day of the Summit also commenced with other special sessions. As such, there was the session of the Leader’s Special Event of Women’s Empowerment attended by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and Ms. Ivanka Trump of the United States, then, it was continued with a session focusing on theme of inequalities and an inclusive and sustainable world, and the last session discussed about climate change, environment and energy. In the late afternoon, Prime Minister Abe held a press conference as the official closing of the Summit and as the G20 President by concluding three important issues from the Summit and the special sessions, such as digital economy, marine initiative, and women empowerment. In the evening, the event was eventually closed with a bilateral meeting between Japan and Russia.
As the host of the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Abe conveyed his thought in his opening speech on a cautionary of global trade tensions between the U.S and China and over growing protectionist sentiment in many G20 member states, mostly due to wealth inequality issues. He strongly voiced that trade restrictive measures were to benefit to no one. Japanese officials uttered its significant worries about the world economy, together with Russia, the Republic of India, and European Union on risk of imposing tariffs on Chinese goods. Additionally, this Summit was expected to establish free, fair, inclusive economy and open competition. As the result of this event, President Trump ultimately considered not to raise tariffs on Chinese goods for at least the time being and tried to conduct a great deal between them. It was also indicated by the Prime Minister of India that the U.S. would probably build a better relationship while discussing the issues regarding Iran, 5G mobile communications, bilateral relations and defense relations. Besides the trade war tensions, Japan confidently went advanced as the pioneer of society 5.0 and enhanced its intention on promoting national and international policy for harnessing the full potential of data and digital economy in order to maximize the benefits of digitalization and emerging technologies. Therefore, the G20 Leaders launched the initiative of “Osaka Track”, which was issued in the Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce in Davos on 25 January 2019 for digital data governance “with trust”. This track would allow electronic data to freely cross borders rather than being kept and possibly hoarded in one location. Also, it can be used as rules-based multilateral trade liberation by providing the highest level political impetus to the World Trade Organization’s e-commerce negotiations, aiming for substantial progress by June 2030.
Concurrently, under Japan’s leadership, the G20 Leaders agreed on climate change deal, similar to the one announced in Argentina, back in 2018, even though the U.S. still obliged its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement for it was considered that American workers and taxpayer’s would only suffer disadvantages. Climate change is recognized as the urgent need to be addressed as the global average temperature has risen at least 3 degrees Celsius. Since September 2018, Prime Minister Abe sounded the alarm over the frequency of extreme weather events including resource efficiency, air, land, fresh water and marine pollution, like marine plastic litter, biodiversity loss, sustainable consumption and production, urban environmental quality and other environmental issues. Therefore, toward the enactment of climate change impact, Japan initiated the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision”, aiming to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050. In doing so, Japan has established the “MARINE Initiative” to advance effective actions at a global scale focusing on 1) management, 2) recovery of marine litter, 3) innovation, and 4) empowerment. Thus, in the G20 Summit 2019, the G20 Leaders had emphasized on the importance of providing financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in accordance with the Paris Agreement. In order to empower developing countries on promoting “MARINE Initiative”, Japan would collaborate with international organizations to assist on 1) developing capacities of waste management and 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle), 2) formulating national action plans to address marine litter, 3) introducing quality environment, 4) providing training for 10,000 officials engaging in waste management all over the world by 2025, 5) assisting ASEAN member countries to combat marine plastic litter through the establishment of the “Regional Knowledge Centre on Marine Plastic Debris”.
In addition, the G20 Leaders agreed to highlight that the gender equality and women’s empowerment issues were essential and crucial to be prioritized to achieve inclusive and sustainable society as well as economic growth by citing an estimation that if women’s participation in the labor force were equal to men, it would increase the global annual gross domestic product by an additional $20 trillion to $28 trillion by 2025. Thus, there were three priority areas underlined, as follows 1) women’s labor participation, 2) enhancing support for girl’s and women’s education including STEM, and 3) engaging with women business leaders and women entrepreneurs with high hopes of further advancing the efforts. Japan took the example from its own country that has already created an enabling working environment for women by such measures as eradicating sexual and power harassment and reducing long working hours. Japan would also provide quality education and training for at least 400 million women in developing countries over the period of three years, and pursue international cooperation for women’s empowerment. In doing this, the joint statement urged the G20 Leaders to implement National Action Plans targeted eliminating gender gaps and inequalities in the labor market, and further reinforcing the 2030 agenda’s pledge to leave no one behind.
Witnessing the G20 Summit in Osaka and the G20 Presidency, it was evident that Japan’s leadership played significant roles on trade, data governance, and marine initiative. Yet, Osaka declaration was not powerful enough to highlight Japan’s diplomacy, especially when it had to deal with the U.S. It seemed that Japan found it difficult to balance the quest for G20 consensus with the U.S, specifically on extremely difficult issues such as international trade and climate change, which were seen as Japan’s too much accommodating to the demands of the U.S. Also, there was no declaration contained any specific mention of battling protectionism, as Prime Minister Abe had conveyed in his opening speech, and later, the phrase was straightforwardly rejected by the United States.
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