How Crucial is the Politicization of G20 for South Asia
By Anum Iqbal
The foremost forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 has a critical role to play in addressing the challenges and opportunities of the global economy. With the leaders of the world's major economies in attendance, representing 85% of global GDP, 75% of global trade, and 60% of the global population, the G20 also engages with a range of stakeholders, including international organizations, civil society groups, business associations, and think tanks.
However, the G20 is not immune to politicization, which involves the increased salience, polarization, and mobilization of actors and issues in the global arena. While politicization can have positive effects, such as enhancing the G20's relevance and influence as a platform for political dialogue and agenda-setting, it can also undermine the forum's legitimacy and effectiveness in promoting economic cooperation and problem-solving.
The politicization of the G20 economic forum could have a significant impact on South Asia. South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are members of the G20 outreach group, which allows them to participate in G20 discussions and initiatives.
The politicization of the G20 could also exacerbate existing divisions and conflicts among South Asian countries and between South Asia and other regions. For example, the G20 could become a platform for competing regional blocs or power centers, such as the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, or the European Union, to advance their interests and agendas at the expense of others. This could lead to a fragmentation of the G20 and a weakening of its role as a forum for international economic cooperation.
Furthermore, the politicization of the G20 could also distract attention and resources from the pressing economic challenges that South Asia is facing, such as poverty, inequality, infrastructure gaps, and job creation. It could also reinforce the perception that the G20 is a club of rich and powerful countries that ignores the interests and aspirations of the developing world, including South Asia.
Therefore, it is crucial for South Asian countries to engage with the G20 in a constructive and proactive manner, and to promote a vision of global economic governance that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. This could involve advocating for reforms of global institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, that better reflect the interests and priorities of developing countries. It could also involve forging partnerships and alliances with other emerging economies, such as China, Brazil, and South Africa that share similar economic and political aspirations.
Recent years have seen an expansion of the G20's agenda to include more contentious and complex issues, including climate change, trade disputes, migration, and human rights. In addition, rising nationalism, populism, and protectionism among some of its member states have threatened the G20's cohesion and credibility.
India, which has emerged as a leading actor in global affairs, is a prominent example of politicization in the G20. While India has used the G20 platform to advance its interests and values, such as promoting multilateralism and combating terrorism, its assertiveness has generated controversy and criticism from some partners. India has also had to balance its relationships with different blocs within the G20, such as the BRICS, the Quad, and the EU.
The G20's future depends on its ability to navigate the risks and opportunities of politicization. While avoiding politicization may result in easier consensus on technical issues, embracing politicization could foster greater diversity and pluralism in global governance. Ultimately, the success of the G20 depends on the political will and vision of its leaders.
About the Author
The author is a Karachi based journalist and an independent researcher on socio-economic policy issues besides commentary on political economy. She has a Bachelor's in Social Sciences from University of London and a Master's in Development studies from PIDE
*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times