G20: New Сhallenges, Old Problems

The Americans are concerned about preserving the existing system, whereas the rising powers believe that sharing is the order of the day. This is the mercantilist outlook of the world, where complete agreement is unattainable.

The G20 summit was held on November 15–16 in Antalya, Turkey, under the Turkish presidency. Against the backdrop of unprecedented terrorist attacks, the forum’s traditional economic agenda was complemented by political issues, such as fighting international terrorism and illegal migration. Rossiya Segodnya hosted a round table discussion, Political Results of the G20 Summit, which was attended by Valdai Club expert Maxim Bratersky, Professor, School of International Relations, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, HSE, and a leading researcher at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies.

According to Mr. Bratersky, even though the G20 was originally considered a purely economic forum, it was inevitable that it would take on a political slant. The previous forum in Brisbane, Australia, focused more on the economy than the most recent one in Antalya, the main agenda of which included the global security system and the situation surrounding ISIS. The Antalya summit participants focused primarily on new approaches to terrorism, new coalitions and the changing attitude toward Russia in connection with the changing geopolitical situation. Nonetheless, the G20 remains primarily a consultative forum, as it doesn’t have the authority yet to make decisions that are currently part of the competence of the UN Security Council. The next forum is likely to focus on political issues as well.

Nonetheless, economic issues were discussed after all. However, there were more questions than answers. President Putin discussed IMF reforms with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. It’s clear that the IMF is unable to cope with the tasks at hand. The US Congress is actually blocking the reform of the Fund. If on November 30, the IMF basket of convertible currencies includes the renminbi, this will reflect whether the fund is ready for reforms.

The summit participants noted that there were no signs of global economic growth to be seen. They discussed such sensitive issues as fighting unemployment, tax base erosion, and cheap jurisdictions.

The leaders of the BRICS countries, for which reforming the existing financial system is a critical issue, met during the G20 summit.

The BRICS countries are switching to national currencies in their mutual trade and are building their own institutions, which are comparable in scale to the IMF.

However, the revolutionary nature of BRICS initiatives should not be exaggerated. China is not interested in destroying the current global financial system. What it wants is to adapt it to its interests. So, the institutions of the West and BRICS will exist side by side. In the future, there will be the IMF and the BRICS pool of currencies. They will continue to exist side by side. BRICS is not a revolutionary force building a new world.

Be that as it may, uniform globalization according to the American rules is nearing its end. The developed economies intend to maintain their hegemony and are consolidating their assets around the United States. However, there are other global projects in the making, such as free trade areas, the Chinese Silk Road and the Eurasian Union. There will be no such thing as a bipolar world or a new Berlin Wall. Cooperation will always go hand in hand with rivalry. It is imperative to come up with rules of one’s own, not just dismiss the existing Western ones.

The purpose of the G20 is to have countries other than the United States and other Western nations take part in shaping the global agenda. However, it’s important to keep in mind that big politics always means big money. Politics is all about two things: security and who gets paid. If all the focus is on the money, contradictions inevitably follow. The Americans are concerned about preserving the existing system, whereas the rising powers believe that sharing is the order of the day. This is the mercantilist outlook of the world, where complete agreement is unattainable. All of human history is as testament to this.

The round table discussions were also attended by Russia’s official representative at the G(irls)20 Summit in Turkey, lecturer at MGIMO (University) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and senior strategic planning adviser at the National Committee for BRICS Studies Viktoria PANOVA; Head of the CIS Strategic Development Center at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting Alexander GUSEV; and Senior Researcher at the Department of Economy of European Countries, Center for European Studies, Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir OLENCHENKO.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.