A recap of Turkey’s 2015 G20 Presidency

As Turkey’s presidency of the international G20 forum draws to an end, we take a look at how the country used this opportunity to focus efforts on ensuring global economic growth and cooperation, among, between and beyond, leaders of the world’s twenty major economies.

The Group of Twenty (G20), a premier forum for global economic and financial cooperation brings together the world’s major and emerging economies, who combined, represent around 85% of the world’s global GDP. The G20 started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis that raised fears of a worldwide economic meltdown.

The first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in 2008, and played a key role in responding to global financial crises. Since the first meeting, G20 leaders have assembled ten more times, with Turkey being the 10th host of the Summit. Leaders have continued to focus on achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth by modernising international financial architecture, promoting job creation and pushing for financial regulations that reduce risks of future financial crises.

The G20 works closely with a number of organizations, including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, in order to achieve its objectives.

Turkish Presidency

g20-2015-turkey-logoThe G20 does not have a permanent secretariat and presidency of the forum rotates annually according to a system that ensures a regional balance over time. Turkey officially took over Presidency from Australia on 1 December 2014, and China will preside over the forum in 2016.

Throughout Turkey’s 2015 presidency, the country has attached paramount importance to strong cooperation and effective coordination among G20 members. Turkey has also emphasised the usefulness of strengthening interaction between the G20 and Low-Income Developing Countries, while aiming to channel the influence of the G20 to reach concrete and beneficial outcomes for the global community.

Turkey’s agenda has focused its efforts on ensuring inclusive and robust global economic growth through collective action, while also strengthening the global recovery, enhancing resilience and buttressing sustainability. The three ‘I’s’ of the Turkish Presidency comprise inclusiveness, implementation and investment, and have been drawn upon in order to exemplify Turkey’s presidential goals.

G20 Summit 2015

g20-summitFrom 15 to 16 November 2015, Turkey held the tenth meeting of the G20 heads of government. The summit was held in Antalya and attended by the participating leaders of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

The summit allowed Turkey to put across desires of ensuring growth and prosperity in the global economy. Issues pertaining to small and medium sized enterprises as well as crosscutting subjects were emphasised. Challenges facing Low Income Developing Countries were raised more vocally, and the need to commit to strengthening gender equality and employment was also mentioned.

G20 members committed to lifting the collective economic growth by an additional 2.1% by 2018, aiming to bring an additional 2 trillion USD to the world economy. Turkey intends to develop an implementation monitoring mechanism with the cooperation of members and contributions of international organizations.

During the Summit, Erdoğan pointed out that investments in his own country have proven to be a key driver of growth, jobs and development. The President made it clear that there is a huge investment gap in the global economy, both in advanced and developing countries. He also made it clear that there is a need for developed-country strategies that aim at brining together concrete policy actions and commitments to improve the investment ecosystem.

Erdoğan further stressed that economic growth must be inclusive and that inequality is rising in many G20 countries. He expressed concerns about these “dangerous” developments and highlighted that they could “retard growth, threaten the cohesion of societies, and jeopardize people’s wellbeing”. He then went on to mention “it is imperative that the G20 tackles inequality head on and demonstrate its determination to ensure all of its member countries’ citizen enjoy the fruits of economic growth”.

The President also pointed out that since the G20 members account for around 85% of the world’s economy, the forum has an important responsibility to respond to challenges that affect the lives and prosperity of millions of people around the world. He said that the forum “cannot risk falling into complacency and inaction, whether regarding terrorism or the fragile state of the world’s economy”.

Paris attacks

paris-attacksAlthough leaders at the G20 Summit took the opportunity to speak about global economic concerns and objectives, focusing on international trade, employment and economic interconnectedness, the attacks that had been engineered by the Islamic State and carried out in Paris on the night of November 13, circumstantially dominated large portions of the summit’s agenda.

Due to the events in Paris, French President, François Hollande cancelled his trip to the Summit and was replaced by his Foreign Affairs Minister, Laurent Fabius, to whom Erdoğan expressed deep condolences. In light of the attacks, the G20 leaders vowed to intensify the fight against terrorism and promised to cooperate on managing borders, airline safety, sharing information on suspected terrorists, countering propaganda, and freezing terrorist assets.

During the summit, Erdoğan made sure to point out that terrorism knows “no religion, nationality, race or region”, that “any link between religion and terrorism is blasphemous for those who are faithful to that particular religion”, and that “the threat of terrorism should be confronted resolutely without making any distinction among the terrorist organizations”.

G20 leaders generally agreed with Erdoğan alongside President Obama, who announced that he would continue to work with other countries on a coordinated strategy to destroy the Islamic State. Obama told the news conference, after the meeting, that the United States and its allies “are united against this threat”.

The year ahead

As well as addressing foreign policy, the need for G20 countries to continue working together economically, and global responses to challenges such as terrorism, the war in Syria and the current refugee crisis, the Antalya summit was able to bring Erdoğan together with leaders such as PM David Cameron, President Obama and President Vladimir Putin in agreement to cut off channels funding terrorist organizations and vows to eliminate ISIS.

On 1 December 2015, presidency of the G20 will be passed onto China for next year, with the eleventh summit taking place on 4 to 5 September 2016 in the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang. The agenda of the Chinese presidency will continue from where Turkey left off and include main themes of building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.