The G20 Summit is the annual meeting of the leaders of the world’s largest economies, with U.S. leading the pack that also includes Britain, France, Germany, China, Turkey, Argentina, South Africa, Japan, Indonesia, among others. Spain is not an actual member but a ‘permanent invitee’. So all in all, there are, in fact only 19 members, but serving as the twentieth is the European Union, which in part explains why other major economies in Europe like the Netherlands are no longer members.
The G20 is also considered larger and more significant than the G8. Between the two summits, the membership accounts for 85 percent of the world’s GDP and two-thirds of its population.
First established in Berlin in 1999, the G20 was initially intended for finance ministers and central bank governors. The collapse, however, of Lehman Brothers in 2008 was regarded as severe enough that pushed leaders to attend themselves, and they have been doing so since then.
For this year, the G20 will happen in Hamburg, Germany this Friday and Saturday. Issues of climate change will likely dominate the discussions, more so since President Donald Trump removed the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
What is also being closely watched in the sidelines of the event is the first meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin since Trump won the election.
There are also expected tensions in the public photocalls and private meetings between Trump and Germany’s Angela Merkel after Merkel’s controversial statement that “the U.S. could no longer be relied upon “ after Trump pulled out the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
Merkel has also declared ahead of the G20 meeting that she will make climate change, free trade and the management of mass migration as the major themes of the summit- issues that she does not see eye to eye with Trump. They are poles apart on their stand on climate change, Merkel’s embrace of free trade is contrasted by Trump’s economic nationalism. Merkel has professed openness to migration in Germany, especially welcoming the people coming from ISIS war zones, while Trump has imposed restrictions on migration to protect American national interest and the security of his people.
Bilateral meetings between countries are expected to take place and can potentially become even more crucial than set piece events. For one, the U.S. is also expected to meet on the sidelines with its Asian allies Japan and South Korea to discuss managing North Korea’s aggression and nuclear ambitions. There would be no formal votes on issues. Events the past years have also been dominated by the “political man of the hour “ so it’s interesting to watch also how Trump will conduct himself in the summit.