The Brisbane G20 leaders’ summit provides an appropriate moment to assess how the G20 process is going. There is certainly benefit in leaders getting together. There are, however, critics and cynics who argue that:
• The membership is not representative
• The agenda is too broad
• At the same time, important global issues are omitted, such as climate change
• G20 ought to cover global political problems, as well as economics
• G20 overlaps with other existing international agencies such as the UN, the WTO and the IMF
• G20 is all talk (or all long communiques) and little action.
• The important issues are still decided at G7/8
• The emerging economies don’t have their voices heard properly
The world needs something like G20. G8 is patently unrepresentative, and increasingly so with the shift of economic power away from the mature industrial countries. Forums with wider membership (e.g. the UN or the IMF) are important, but universal representation has its own intractable problems. While the current membership is imperfectly representative, to open this up again would be a huge distraction. This issue will have to be handled by innovative outreach.
That said, more needs to be done. The relationship between G20 and the other major international forums (IMF, WTO) could usefully be clarified. These other institutions have a stronger legal mandate, but G20 presents an opportunity for top-level input. This colloquium invites ideas on what more should be done.
About the Speaker:
Dr Stephen Grenville is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He works as a consultant on financial sector issues in East Asia. Between 1982 and 2001 he worked at the Reserve Bank of Australia, for the last five years as Deputy Governor and Board member. Before that, Dr Grenville was with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, the International Monetary Fund in Jakarta, the Australian National University and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. His special interests are in monetary policy and financial development in the Asian emerging economies. He has written extensively on capital flows, recognising the serious policy challenges which arise from the volatile nature of these flows on economies which have not yet developed deep and resilient financial sectors. He has also written on the 2008 financial crisis and the reform efforts since then. His interests include the international economic institutions (particularly the International Monetary Fund and the Asian institutions). He is member of the Lowy Institute’s G20 Studies Centre. More broadly, he blogs weekly on the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter web-site on a range of current international economic issues and is a regular contributor to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Organised by RSIS Events Unit.