The German G20 presidency will take place in difficult economic times. The outlook for the world economy remains weak: The IMF predicts in its World Economic Outlook that global growth will slow to 3.1 percent in 2016 and rise slowly in 2017. Trade growth has also slowed to annually 3 percent. Only half the growth rate before the financial crisis. The benefits of free trade and globalization are increasingly being questioned. Rising inequalities, and challenges of migration have led to populist and nationalist tendencies in many countries. The G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017 needs to give a clear signal in favor of globalization and free trade.
Germany has taken over the G20 presidency at a time of increasing economic and political isolationism. In the face of a growing divide between those who benefit from globalization and those left behind, support for populist parties is on the rise in many industrialized countries, while mainstream parties are losing ground. The British vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the US are two of the most recent examples. The rising level of isolationism at present poses a risk to growth and employment potential. All in all, international integration has had a positive influence on the prosperity of all countries involved if distributed fairly. Germany should make use of its role at the head of the international forum and take a clear stance against the trend towards protectionism.
However necessary it may be, amid an anti-elitist zeitgeist, the optics of a lavish forum that brings together leaders from twenty of the world’s largest economies cannot help but come across as a little tone-deaf. In this blog, Hugh Jorgensen explores whether taxation might be one area where the G20 could demonstrate an appreciation of, and need to respond to, the public’s apparent and growing frustration with status quo economic policy.
What is the best way forward for the G20 to promote a sustainable and inclusive vision for the world? At the beginning of Germany’s G20 Presidency, the T20 addressed this challenge at its own launch event in Berlin over December 1-2. In a difficult global political and economic setting, discussions focused on how to make the G20 more relevant and responsive to the lives and needs of people.