India saw a hugely successful G20 summit, capping an intensive year where it shaped the narrative for the global economic policy-making body. G20 brought the world to India, showcased our economic dynamism and technological prowess, and opened new horizons for sustained growth.
Given the many challenges confronting the global economy and the shifting geopolitical trends, the G20 process was indeed a balancing act undertaken by India in a strategic manner. Over 200 meetings were held to craft a common stance on contentious issues. The events held in 60 cities across the country also brought India together to work in presenting the economy in a positive light. Under B20, the Confederation of Indian Industry, as the secretariat, organised over 100 events that brought businesses together for discussions on pressing global challenges.
India’s Economic Priorities
India prioritised economic rebalancing to meet the current imperatives of high debt levels, economic stability and emphasis on sustainable development goals. The prime minister’s travels over the past year to many countries helped in building consensus among all members.
The key takeaway for industry is that India has strengthened its leadership in the global economic arena. The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration steers the conversation on global response to major challenges towards the needs of the developing economies.
This is reflected in the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20, redefining the character of the grouping and bringing 1.4 billion people and a GDP of over $3 trillion into the global policy-making conversation. Africa has been generally viewed as a source of natural resources, and its economic value addition faces huge gaps. The continent is now changing, and there is a need for the global business community to engage more deeply with it for investment opportunities, leverage local talent and build local manufacturing facilities.
B20 India had a special action council on Africa which had called for pathways to improve human capital outcomes, support agricultural and industrial transformation, and ensure digital and physical infrastructure. With Africa as a strong voice of the Global South, the development of the continent will catalyse global development.
Industry’s role in Shaping Global Economic Direction
We also warmly welcome the emphasis on climate finance, digital transformation, small industries and women. Focus on these areas would mean a growing role for the industry. With India leading the way, Indian industry is likely to play an important role in the emerging policy-making scenario. Under B20, we dived deep into these issues from the business perspective and sent recommendations we agreed on to the G20. Many B20 recommendations were included in the G20 Declaration and created a better climate for business action.
In particular, the issue of countries contributing according to their development status is an important outcome of G20. We believe that this would make the emerging standards and norms more flexible for emerging economies, where smaller businesses find it challenging to meet the requirements due to lack of information and capabilities.
The G20 Declaration recognises the critical role of businesses in driving growth and sustainability and pledges to work with the private sector. It also stresses facilitating foreign direct investment in sustainable business models, developing pipelines of investible projects in less-developed countries, reducing the cost of doing business, and promoting ease of doing business. The setting up of Startup 20 as a new engagement group under India’s presidency gives a fillip to new entrepreneurship.
Global Value Chains: Promoting Inclusivity and Sustainability
The priority of developing inclusive, sustainable and resilient global value chains opens upnew space for equitable growth. Important points in the Declaration such as the reforms of multilateral banks, skills migration, climate finance, financial inclusion, and digital transformation will catalyse global initiatives and enhance the role of the private sector in growth.
The Global Biofuels Alliance is a major step towards expanding use of biofuels and developing new technologies for its deployment. This will promote energy transition and create new jobs, especially in the agriculture sector which employs a large number of people across the Global South. Given the high volume of agricultural waste in the world, such a market would be able to synergise requirements effectively.
India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor: Transformative Agreement
The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is a landmark agreement as it brings together vibrant economies on one platform. The creation of targeted infrastructure along the route will boost investments and support businesses. The proposed linkages are through rail and sea, and also include energy and green hydrogen. India’s western ports will be more efficiently connected to West Asian ports, and from there to Europe via ports in France, Italy and Greece. This will lower transportation costs and make Indian goods more competitive in Europe, which is among India’s top export destinations.
India’s Expanding Global Presence
With the success of G20, the world is looking at India as a stronger power on the global stage. The bilateral meetings that were held alongside the G20, the launch of the Economic Corridor, inclusion of the African Union, the Global Biofuels Alliance and the G20 document itself have demonstrated that it is a preferred partner of developed and developing countries alike. These factors open up new opportunities for Indian businesses overseas. In particular, we must drive our advantage in geographies such as Africa, Europe, and the US.
There are many areas where India’s strengths have been showcased, including digital public infrastructure, renewable energy and green hydrogen. Through the G20 presidency year, the country has been highlighting its fintech, healthcare and green energy industries, and we see partner countries showing great interest in Indian investments in these areas in their regions. This is a huge opportunity for India to drive its engagement in global value chains and shift manufacturing hubs to its shores.
This article was first published in the New Indian Express on 22 September 2023