GP Insights

GP Insights # 93, 29 June 2019

G20 Summit 2019 in Japan: Early takeaways
Harini Madhusudhan

What happened?

The fourteenth International leaders' Forum of leaders from 19 countries plus the EU, is underway in Osaka, Japan. This group collectively represents two-thirds of the population and more than 80 per cent of the world's economic output with its primary aim being- to promote international financial stability.

On the first day of the Summit, 28 June 2019, bilateral meetings took centre stage. During the meeting between Trump and Putin, a reporter asked Trump if he would tell Russia not to meddle in the upcoming US presidential election in 2020. The US leader seems to have  turned to Putin with a smile and said: "Don't meddle in the election, please." Multiple meetings were held between Trump and Merkel, May and Putin, Modi and Merkel.

The EU and the US have displayed differences in their stance regarding Climate Change; the US has been trying to get them to soften their stance on Climate. However, in his meeting with Macaron, the French president said, removing any reference to the Paris deal in the final statement would be a red line for him.

Leaders of Russia, India and China have urged joint action against unilateralism during their meeting on the sidelines. Emphasis was given to the three countries' agreement on the need to rely on international law, respect for national sovereignty, and refrain from interference in internal affairs of other nations. Apart from these, there were a couple of mentions on the Iran issue, the protests in Hong Kong, and the tensions in the Gulf. Another interesting note is that in Japan too, protesters staged a demonstration outside the venue in Osaka. 

What is the background?

The Summit is based around eight themes: ranging from climate change to women empowerment. They include; global economy, trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, employment, women's empowerment, development and health. The Summit took place when there were increasing trade tensions between China and the USA, protests in Hong Kong, the global growth damage from the 'Trade War.' There were many expectations from the Summit. 

Japan makes a few strong points while it hosts the event. First, it shows, Abe's intent to encourage unity among the leaders in support for free-trade. Second, it wants to draw attention at the need to revive denuclearisation of North Korea. Third, Japan could show that it is capable of taking responsibility for the world. Most importantly, Abe and Trump's dialogues have managed to tone down the brash approach of Trump. 

Meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is the most anticipated among all. One could expect another truce between them, like the one from Argentina except, Trump has the 2020 election coming, and this may have an impact on the way he negotiates. China, however, hopes that the US can meet China halfway and work together to promote a positive result from the meeting. 

What does it mean?

In the technology and data section, Japan has put the Fourth Industrial Revolution front and centre for its G-20 presidency. The meeting between Trump and Xi will leave a significant impact. What is also interesting is the statement from Rebiya Khadeer, saying the world should open their eyes to the challenges of the Uighur struggles. The Summit will collectively make a few promises on Climate and their responsibilities.

Trump, Abe and Modi fist-bumping each other is one of the many images that will emerge as an outcome of the Summit. In the next week, one can tell for sure what the impact of the Summit would be on the slowing-down global economy, on the commitments that the nations are willing to make, despite the uncertainties and what would happen to the 'Trade War,' between the US and China.

Harini Madhusudhan is a Research Associate at ISSSP, NIAS. She can be reached at

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