With an eye on India’s presidency of G20 in 2022, the country’s negotiators are looking at the issue of corruption and fugitive economic offenders, which is going to be the focus area of this edition’s summit.
After Osaka, New Delhi will become part of the troika that includes the next of set of G20 chairs – Saudi Arabia (2020), Italy (2021) and India (2022).
Negotiations are on to include a strong paragraph on the issue of corruption in the Osaka declaration.
A top Indian official said that since the country has taken the lead on the issue of fugitive economic offenders, the Indian side is working “very closely with Japan and others within the G20”, as one of the key areas for the Japanese presidency is corruption. This is going to be a focus area for future presidencies, including Saudi Arabia, which will be president of the G20 next year, the official said.
India had proposed a nine-point agenda at the last G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which included strengthening international cooperation, arriving at a common understanding in terms of definitions, introducing a platform for sharing of best practices, and identifying legal mechanisms so that the issue can be tackled more meaningfully, fulfilling domestic legislation.
Akshay Mathur, CEO and Director of Research & Senior Geoeconomics Fellow at Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House, who is in Osaka as part of the T20 (Think Tank 20) process, said, “India has already announced that it intends to push for a global framework to curtail black money, terrorism financing and the return of economic offenders. These issues do not get highlighted by the western media, which is more concerned about issues of trade, ageing, artificial intelligence and sustainability issues. However, issues of financial transparency are crucial for India’s national and economic security.
“Even today, it is impossible to trace the origins of capital to its rightful ultimate owner because capital comes through various opaque financial centres. Since India is a net receiver of capital, it is critical for the stability of our economy to have a global framework for transparency. A framework like this can also force China to declare its investments around the world more transparently since their initiatives have evoked concerns of sovereign debt and international security.”
Kazunari Kudo, chief advisor to the President at the Tokyo-based think tank Institute for International Monetary Affairs (IIMA), said, “If you look at the final paragraph of the G20 Finance track communique released early this month, there is a description on preventing and combatting money laundering and terrorist financing – not only limited to G20 countries but all countries need to tackle these agenda. Recently Facebook is shaking up the financial world that it will launch a new digital currency, the Libra, to provide unique financial service. Concerns are already expressed by many financial authorities. While there are opportunities for the development of FinTech with regards to financial inclusion, there are risks for misuse of such financial innovation. We would like to expect serious discussions on this agenda.”
Mathur said that for the first time, G20 is expected to establish principles for the worldwide governance of data. The negotiations have been led by Japan under their presidency under an initiative called the ‘Osaka Track’. “These principles will lay the foundation for multilateral and bilateral negotiations on data, including data localisation, data sovereignty, etc. There are also indicators that G20 will launch discussions on the Methane Economy or Hydrogen Economy to identify ways of carbon capture and sequestration. The reform of the WTO, especially the Appellate body is also likely to be on the agenda.”
Since India will host the summit in 2022, Mathur said New Delhi will have to begin identifying issues it wants to champion, “because India’s responsibility will not be limited to ‘shaping’ but leading the global economic process”.