Twenty-twenty three is a momentous year for India. The G20 presidency, of course, serves as a diplomatic exercise to reinforce relations with old partners, explore new ones, and enhance the incumbent nation’s image and might on the global stage. It also presents an opportunity for India to represent the developing world on the global stage and fulfil its domestic aspirations while doing so.
In a period of unparalleled multidimensional crises, India has proven itself to be resilient. While the world faced recessionary conditions and uncertainty, India has marched ahead on its strong growth path, bringing benefits to many through new strategies.
The G20 presidency gives India the opportunity to share success stories with the world and at the same time to bring global businesses to India at a time when they are looking to diversify investment destinations.
The IMF’s latest projections highlight that emerging markets and developing economies are expected to contribute around 80 per cent of global growth, with India accounting for more than 15 per cent. Having recently become the world’s fifth-largest economy, India is also the only large economy predicted to grow at over 6 per cent in coming years. Therefore, this year presents a huge responsibility for it to be a voice for the Global South in its agenda and leverage the G20 platform as a catalyst for global and domestic change.
The Indian government has been providing the right policy climate over the past few years to help the country steer through various crises, allowing for domestic capacity building and providing a necessary push to further propel India on the path of economic growth. This includes building the right environment for attracting foreign direct investment, engaging in deeper and freer trade and global value chain integration, improving infrastructure (including digital) and a series of reforms in the banking and rapidly growing renewable energy sectors. Promoting indigenous entrepreneurship is another factor – India’s home-grown entrepreneurs and businesses and a large middle-class population give it a competitive edge over other big nations.
All of these are in perfect place to complement and support this year’s G20 priorities. The presidency aims to make tackling shared issues like climate change, economic vulnerabilities, reform of multilateralism, lack of access to finance for many sections of society, and the task of embracing sustainability and green transition more approachable through collective efforts. Through the establishment of close partnerships amongst the 20 nations, nine guest countries, and various international organisations, India can mirror its people-centric approach on a global scale.
There are some definite ways in which India’s economy can be boosted through the G20 process. The first is international trade – the ripple effects of increasing protectionism, disrupted supply chains, and food and fuel shortages because of the Ukraine-Russia conflict can be moderated through a fair, transparent, and rules-based trading system. The Trade and Investment Working Group of G20 has been engaged in promoting resilient trade, enhancing MSME participation in trade and expanding logistics, among other issues.
Second, international collaboration and sharing of best practices in technology could help India build innovation. The G20 deliberations on a range of occasions through the year will help India showcase its technology prowess and initiate new partnerships.
Third, the inclusion of MSMEs in deliberations through the various arms of the G20 will play a significant role in opening new opportunities for them, especially through partnerships in medium-income countries.
Fourth, hosting G20 is helping to promote tourism in the country as well.
The government has strategised to organise the various meetings in different parts of the country and many associated events are showcasing India’s culture and heritage sites. Promoting these venues through communication outreach is helping the world learn about India’s attractions.
Further, directly engaging with global businesses can act as a catalyst for new investments. Alongside the G20 meetings, leading businesses of the world are undertaking dialogues on the B20 platform, the Business Engagement Group of G20, which is the largest among all its engagement groups. During the year, B20 India is organising over 100 policy discussion initiatives across the country which are attracting notable participation from overseas. For example, a series of events in North East India is bringing B20 businesses to explore new opportunities in this resurgent region.
As the designated B20 secretariat, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has outlined nine priority areas with the theme of RAISE – responsible, accelerated, innovative, sustainable, and equitable businesses.
Through seven taskforces under B20, global businesses as well as think tanks and international organisations are working on building inclusive global value chains for resilient global trade and investment; the future of work, skilling, and mobility; energy, climate change and resource efficiency; digital transformation; financing for global economic recovery; technology, innovation, and research and development; and financial inclusion for economic empowerment. Further, two action councils are focusing on environment, sustainability, governance (ESG) in business and a collective dialogue on African economic integration.
As the G20 countries engage intensively with India during this year, India’s economy is expected to receive a significant thrust that will enable many new jobs and investment proposals.
This article was first published in the Business World on 19 April 2023.