India’s G20 presidency comes at a remarkable time, given India’s emergence as the world’s 5th largest economy encompassing the world’s largest population. With a wide range of successful developmental policies and experiences, India has much to offer to the world in achieving its sustainable development goals (SDGs). India positively stands out in a global economy facing strong growth headwinds, high inflation, the tightest rate cycle in decades and record levels of public debt. Transformative government initiatives such as digital public infrastructure, the PM Gati Shakti, the production linked incentive scheme, Startup India, a reduction in corporate tax rates and others have helped India sustain the fastest economic momentum among the G20 countries. The aspiration of becoming the world’s third-largest economy is well within reach.
Business 20 (B20), the G20 engagement group relating to industry representation, defined the business voice over the course of the year’s deliberations. In doing this, B20 worked under the G20 India theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future” as announced by Prime Minister Modi. B20 India prioritized inclusive growth, resilient global value chains, servicestrade, digital technologies, innovation and sustainability, in not only the G20 but across the world.
Over the past few years, businesses navigated theslowdown sparked by the pandemic and built resilience when it comes to supply chain disruptions. Policymakersneed to support businesses with innovative policy roadmaps that will incentivise investments for growth and enable stronger resilience to shocks, particularly for enterprises in the Global South.
At the same time, the business community must partner with governments—this is why the B20 recommendations have become even more relevant. As business leaders, we must take the lead in driving sustainable growth and fostering inclusive development. We have an opportunity and an obligation to use our expertise, innovation, and resources to build a more robust and equitable global economy.
The central theme of B20 India, R.A.I.S.E.: Responsible, Accelerated, Inclusive, Sustainable, and Equitable Business, provided the global business community a platform to deliberate initiatives with long-term impact.Over the year, B20 India reached out to close to 20,000 stakeholders in India and overseas through almost 100 policy initiatives to disseminate key messages.
We formed task forces that comprehensively explored financing for economic recovery; inclusive global value chains for resilient global trade and investment, financial inclusion for economic recovery; digital transformation; tech, innovation and R&D; energy, climate change and resource efficiency; and future of work, skills and mobility. Additionally, B20 India worked to build industry initiatives through two crucial action councils on ESG in business and African economic integration.
Financing for economic recovery. For accelerated growth, we need to build an inclusive world economy andstrengthen the foundations for win-win outcomes. Financing for global economic recovery is a critical component in a post-pandemic world. B20 India discussed robust measures for augmenting liquidity and access to funding, particularly for small businesses, and the promotion of sustainable finance.
Inclusive global value chains for resilient global trade and investment. Growth also depends on driving greater inclusion in global value chains (GVCs) through resilient trade and investment models. Services trade entered the B20 dialogue vigorously this year, and we prioritized the imperative to enhance the use of technology in trade facilitation to lower costs and expand information. The greater participation of least developed economies (LDCs), MSME, women and youth in GVCs must be fostered to make trade more inclusive. We suggestedincreased transparency, equitable policy cooperation at an international level, and the integration of SMEs to ensure diversified global supply chains.
Financial inclusion to the last mile is a key enabler to empower all sections of society to contribute to growth. We recommended measures to make financial services more accessible to underserved communities and MSMEs, to promote digital financial literacy, and leverage technology to provide affordable financial services. India’s UPI platform drew high attention as it has created fintech opportunities for millions of users.
Digital transformation. Digital transformation, an inevitable part of our future, can flourish by strengthening international policies for data governance, promoting digital literacy, and ensuring cybersecurity in an increasingly connected world. When it comes to AI in particular, we call for the establishment of global standards and a regulatory framework that helps the private sector deploy AI to both increase competitiveness and build a sustainable, inclusive future.
Tech, innovation and R&D. We need to build an innovative world economy to generate new drivers of growth. In the domain of tech, innovation, and R&D, B20 India calls for the nurturing of a global culture of innovation, fostering international R&D collaborations, and formulating policies that fuel technological advancement.
Energy, climate change and resource efficiency.Sustainability must be at the core of our agenda. The world needs to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, invest in renewable energy, and adopt circular business models that reduce waste and conserve resources. We advocate for a transition to renewable energy sources, commitment to carbon-neutral practices, and resource use efficiency. The Global South can participate further in decarbonization and climate change mitigation through adequate funding, while recognizing the differential developmental status of countries and their ability to contribute. Again, India’s achievements and progress offered a model for both advanced and developing economies to consider.
As responsible businesses, our commitment to integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations into our work must be unwavering. B20 India explored steps to encourage companies to embed ESG into their corporate strategies, and mechanisms for nations to strengthen and standardize ESG metrics.
Future of work, skills and mobility. Equitable growth and empowerment stood at the heart of our endeavorsover the year. B20 participants explored how to work towards reducing inequalities and providing equal opportunities for all, particularly small businesses and women. We propose a set of lifelong learning initiatives, skill development programs, and more flexible international policies that permit talent to move seamlessly across borders.
Geographically, a major opportunity for the world’s businesses lies in the closer and deeper integration of the African economy into the global economy. A special action council put forth ideas for greater private sector participation in healthcare and education, infrastructure construction, digital connectivity and industrial development across the African continent.
The results of the B20 engagement this year reinforces the idea that we truly stand at the crossroads of a new era. The decisions we make, and the paths we choose, will determine the shape of the global economic landscape for years to come. B20 India worked to make sure that we pursue a path of inclusivity, sustainability, and prosperity for all.
This article was contributed by Mr N Chandrasekaran, Chair, B20 India and Chairman, Tata Sons and was first published in the Economic Times on 26th August.