Economic Statecraft
G20 Summit in Bali: Trying to Reconcile the Irreconcilable
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy Boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On November 18, the Valdai Club hosted a discussion titled “Results of the G20 Summit: ‘Business as usual’?” The participants discussed the final communiqué of the summit, the role of the G20 in the architecture of global governance, the prospects for this association in terms of promoting joint anti-crisis measures, and a number of other issues.

Viktoria Panova, Sherpa of Russia in the Women’s Twenty and Vice-Rector of the National Research University Higher School of Economics noted the merit of the Indonesian presidency, which did not allow the collective West to intercept the agenda and insisted that the G20 is a forum that solves global problems. These include food security, energy security, maintaining supply chains, health issues and many other issues. All of them were reflected in the final communiqué. Panova expressed hope that this will continue in the future, given that the G20 presidency is passing to India, another representative of the “global majority.”

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the summit, emphasising the importance of the forum for genuine multilateralism. At the same time, he lamented that the opportunity was missed to put Presidents Biden and Putin at the negotiating table. According to Sachs, the conflict in Ukraine would end if Russia entered into a dialogue with the United States, since the confrontation is between these two countries. The United States must recognise its role in provoking this conflict and clearly understand that NATO should not expand into countries such as Ukraine and Georgia, he stressed.

The G20 is successfully fulfilling its functions as the summit in Bali showed, said Dmitry Birichevsky, Director of the Department of Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Despite sometimes polar opposite positions, there is a desire to negotiate and look for ways to compromise, he noted. It is important that fifty of the fifty-two points of the leadership declaration are devoted to global problems. Birichevsky elaborated on its third point, concerning the conflict in Ukraine, where it is stated that it has had a negative effect on the world economy. Moscow, of course, shares this approach, since it perceives this conflict as a hybrid war of the collective West against Russia.

Wang Wen, Professor and Executive Dean of the Chongyang Financial Research Institute and Renmin University of China (RDCY), urged Russia to participate more actively in the G20 mechanisms, as the G20 and Russia need each other. He expressed concern that the G20 has not created mechanisms that could prevent the current conflict. According to him, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine should end as soon as possible, and the world community should convince the parties to start negotiations, reducing the list of conditions. The G20 should also play a certain role in this.

Andy Vijajanto, Head of the National Resilience Institute LEMHANNAS (Indonesia), summed up the results of his country’s G20 presidency. According to him, the G20 is one of the platforms of multilateralism, one of the opportunities to defend the national interests of countries, to discuss global problems and create a more sustainable world. Indonesia sees as its priority the creation of “bridges” between the G20 and other platforms of multilateralism, such as the ASEAN and APEC summits. In total, about 50 international organisations were represented within the framework of  Indonesia’s G20 presidency, he stressed.

Yaroslav Lissovolik, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted that Indonesian presidency has done a lot to create an inclusive agenda. At the same time, there are no mechanisms of horizontal interaction between integration groupings and development institutions in the world. In this regard, he proposed to consider the possibility of organising such interaction within the framework of the G20.

Mikatekiso Kubayi, Researcher at the Global Dialogue Institute at the University of South Africa, focused on the role of developing countries in the global governance system, one of the important instruments of which is the G20. According to him, the membership of the African Union in the G20 is long overdue. In the next 10 years, the population of the continent will reach 2 billion people, but so far it has not participated in the global discussions.

Unlike other speakers, who gave mostly positive assessments of the role of the G20 in the architecture of global governance, Radhika Desai, Professor at the Department of Political Studies and Director of the Research Group on Geopolitical Economics at the University of Manitoba (Canada), expressed harsh criticism. According to her, the G20 was a product of the West and the G7, forced to make a concession to the emerging multi-polarity, and sooner or later will go to the dustbin of history. The G20 has simply become a discussion forum and will soon fall victim to its imperialist origins, she said. It is time to start thinking about alternatives and return to the anti-imperialist agenda of the United Nations Charter, Desai stressed.