4 Jul 2019

G – 20 Summit

Manifest pedagogy

The summit of  G-20 is important this year for two reasons It shows India’s shifting alliances in IR and also India’s growing closeness with Japan over years. Instead of a direct question on G20 indirect questions like India’s Changing foreign policy or India’s relationship with Japan could be asked

In news

  • G20, 2019 summit was held in Osaka, Japan.

Placing it in syllabus

  • Global groupings involving India and India’s interests.

Static dimensions

  • About G-20

Current dimensions


  • G-20 summit at Osaka (issues discussed)
  • Japan, India ans US relations
  • India-Japan strategic relationship




The G20 (or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU). It was founded in 1999 with the aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. Collectively, the G20 economies account for 80% of world trade, two-thirds of the world population, and approximately half of the world land area. 

 The G20 Summit is formally known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy”. Japan hosted the 2019 Summit. The 2020 Summit will be in Saudi Arabia and 2022 in India. Leaders of invited guest countries and representatives of invited guest international organisations participate in the summit along with leaders from the G20 members. 

After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, it was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed on discussions on the international financial system, and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999. In November 2008, the inaugural G20 Summit was held in Washington, D.C. in response to the global financial crisis that occurred in the wake of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. 

The G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was upgraded to the heads of state level. In September 2009, the third summit was held in Pittsburgh where the leaders designated the G20 as the “premier forum for international economic cooperation”. From thereon, the summit meetings were held semiannually until 2010 and annually from 2011 onwards.

As  globalization progresses and various issues become more intricately intertwined, the recent G20 summits have focused not only on macroeconomy and trade, but also on a wide range of global issues such as development, climate change and energy, health, counter-terrorism, as well as migration and refugees. 

G20 summit, 2019, Osaka (issues discussed)

  • TRADE AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY The leaders agreed to address inequality and use smart policies to protect against threats to global growth. They pledged to build up financial “buffers” to ensure government debts are manageable and to ensure monetary policies keep prices stable and economies growing. They pledged to work towards a  “free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment”.
  • GLOBAL WARMING AND ENVIRONMENT Leaders discussed urgent problems with pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change, noting the need for a shift in thinking about financing and investment in innovation and sustainable growth. All the G20 nations, except US, agreed to the “irreversibility” of the Paris climate deal and pledged its full implementation.
  • CYBERSECURITY AND TERRORISM The G20 said it was committed to doing more to prevent use of the internet to fund and facilitate terrorism and extremism. Meanwhile they agreed to increase efforts to respect fundamental freedoms such as “freedom of expression and access to information.”
  • SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT The leaders said they would work to ensure “no one is left behind” by alleviating poverty, investing in good quality infrastructure, promoting gender equality and providing access to health, education and training.
  • In an informal BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) leaders’ meeting, our honourable Prime minister urged to stop all the mediums of support to terrorism and racism. He called terrorism “the biggest threat to humanity” which kills innocent and severely affects economic development and social stability. He spoke about strengthening the WTO, fighting protectionism and ensuring energy security.

Bilateral and trilateral meetings held


Prime minister Modi met US President Trump and discussed various bilateral and global issues including Iran, 5G communications networks, trade and defence. The  meeting comes amidst India’s concern over US sanctions on Iranian crude and the “America first policy” while Trump administration demanding Modi to lower the tariffs on US goods and embrace “fair and reciprocal” trade.

On technological issues such as data storage and 5G network, India placed itself across the divide from Japan and the U.S and alongside leaders of BRICS. In case 5G technology, where the U.S. has demanded that countries ban Chinese telecom major Huawei’s 5G network because of its ability to spy on them, Mr. Modi gave Mr. Trump no assurances. According to India’s  5G rollout plan, it is preparing to begin technology trials in September,2019 and while that deadline may be postponed, India has not yet decided on whether to exclude Huawei from the trials. 

India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale underlined the need for framing rules on data within the WTO and not at the G20, running counter to Japan’s initiative to push for “Data Free Flow with Trust, (DFFT)”. The initiative for free flow of data, announced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in January, came after the Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines mandating that the storage of all financial data, including by multinational companies, must be kept on servers in India (Data localisation). 


On the sidelines of  Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral talks, President Xi urged the three countries to “expand cooperation in 5G network, high technology, connectivity, energy and other areas”. He also called for reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO), based on consensus. He also proposed that the three countries should become guardians of “global and regional peace and stability” by advocating a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concept

The trio will meet again in Vladivostok at the Eastern Economic Forum. Mr. Xi stressed that “hotspot issues” should be resolved through “political dialogue”. He pointed out that the rise of protectionism and unilateralism had seriously affected the global stability, hampered world economic growth  and exerted a negative impact on emerging-market countries. The three leaders decided to institutionalise their “informal summit” on the sidelines of the G20

India-Saudi Arabia

PM Modi and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman discussed deepening cooperation in trade and investment, energy security and counter-terrorism with the “invaluable strategic partner”. Saudi Arabia is India’s top supplier of crude oil and the two governments have agreed to build a strategic partnership


Both countries agreed to restart trade talks on mutual respect and equal-footing. The US side said it will not add new tariffs on Chinese exports. 

Japan – India – USA relations

The navies of the three countries held the Malabar 2018 naval exercises off the coast of US territory of Guam in June, 2018. US and the Indian Air Force had participated in the Cope 2018 exercises conducted from the Kalaikunda Air Force base in West Bengal. The India-US-Japan-Australia quadrilateral held a meeting of their foreign office officials in Manila, Philippines, in November, 2018  to discuss issues of common interest in the Indo-Pacific region.

JAI Trilateral – A trilateral meeting of  JAI (Japan, America, India) was held on the sidelines of G20 summit, where Trump and Abe extensively discussed issues of the Indo-Pacific region, connectivity and infrastructure development. It was the second Japan-America-India (JAI) meeting.

India – Japan partnership

The India-Japan strategic partnership goes back a number of years. The two countries began a two-plus-two dialogue at the level of foreign and defense secretaries (not ministers) almost a decade ago in 2010. Key issues discussed included maritime, cyber, and outer space security. India is one of the largest recipients of Japan’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) loans since 2003. One of the primary objectives for both New Delhi and Tokyo is to prevent the rise of a unipolar Asia dominated by one single hegemonic power. 

India and Japan have agreed to hold a two-plus-two dialogue between the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries. This will take place ahead of the summit-level meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe later in this year. The two-plus-two dialogue could possibly give a political push to future arms sales from  Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit Gujarat for the annual India-Japan bilateral summit meeting in September, 2019. The focus will primarily be on advancing the agenda pertaining to industrial clusters for investments and mega-infrastructure initiatives. The foundation stone for the flagship Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail (HSR) Shinkansen (bullet train) project will be laid. This is a significant success for Abe’s signature Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (EPQI) initiative. The EPQI intersects with PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and ‘Act East’ policy.

Shinzo Abe’s celebrated speech at the Indian Parliament— ‘Confluence of the Two Seas’, in 2007  underscores shared universal values and interests of two countries. India-Japan ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’, aimed at securing strategic stability and economic prosperity of the Indo-Pacific space, culminated into the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) this year.

Improved infrastructure and inter and intra-regional connectivity in the northeast, often touted as the gateway to Southeast Asia, is a key determinant for the success of Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy. Japan is increasingly emerging as a ‘natural partner for development of northeast. Abe’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’ and Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy ‘converge’ as it is situated at an ‘important juncture between India and Southeast Asia.

As maritime democracies, both nations have argued for rules-based international order, freedom of navigation and over flight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful settlement of disputes.  India-Japan relations are witnessing the most productive period in history. Entry into force of the India-Japan civil nuclear agreement in 2017, launching of the AAGC, diversification of the defence cooperation, coordination on North Korean proliferation threat demonstrates the forward movement in India-Japan relations since 2016.

Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart have unveiled an era of high-powered diplomacy. Bilateral and regional ambitions in the Indo-Pacific have been clearly laid out in ‘India-Japan Vision 2025’. However longevity of this ‘special’ partnership is based on how the political will translates into tangible deliverables. It is imperative for both India and Japan to engage in forward thinking to accomplish the full potential of this ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’.