In a world where numerous multilateral fora have emerged in the last decade, the G-20 carved its position as the epitome of economic governance in the international arena. As the current crest of members was inducted into the forum during the 90s, based on their ties with the West, there is a necessity of criteria-based expansion within the forum. So, going with the original G-20 vision of creating adequate representation for emerging countries in global economic discussion and governance, there comes an essentiality of including parties with better economic performance to the forum. Analysing the economic status quo of the G-20 crest, the global GDP contribution of the G-20 members has reduced to 79.9% implying the existence of economic growth outside the forum. The African Union (AU) is a quintessential instance of such a case.
The African Union represents the collective economic and socio-political interests of Africa and is also the 8th largest economy in the world with a higher performance than the economies of many G-20 countries. In such a situation it makes much sense to incorporate the African Union to increase the G-20’s share of global GDP, aligning with the forum’s vision of global economic stability. This would aid the G-20 in five ways.
First, the inclusion of the AU would strengthen the G20’s international economic cooperation and economic governance over all the 5 major continents as the AU. Second, the inclusion can also pave the way for G-20 endorsed sustainable policies into Africa. As the African continent is projected to be a potential ground of 40 percent solar energy of the world, investments through G-20 in the continent will strengthen the sustainable development initiatives. Thirdly, trade with African countries has been dominated by the G-20 countries, particularly China and India. Fourthly, there has been substantial levels of migration to G-20 countries in Europe and other parts of the world from Africa. Lastly, being one of the major suppliers of critical raw materials globally, the AU will be able to assist the energy concerns of the G-20 economies. The uninterrupted supply chain of raw materials is vital for the economic security of the G-20 countries which may be facilitated through the inclusion of the AU.
With the inclusion of AU in G-20, the forum is not only accommodating more than 80 percent of the global population, but will also be overall raising the number of state representatives. As the African continent is projected to surpass some major economies of the world by their Agenda 2063 vision, the incorporation of the AU will help the forum in financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of Africa at a much smoother pace. Consequently, this also becomes an opportunity for the G-20 forum to ensure the expansion of the G-20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to one more continent.
Inclusion Agenda and Possibilities under the Indian Presidency
There have been initiatives in the past, especially in the last decade, for inclusion and representation of the African continent in the G-20 forum. Apart from being an observer or special invitee, there hasn’t been considerable progress in granting membership to the AU in the past. Despite significant initiatives by the G-20 to empower and assist the development of the region consistently, the inclusion measures within the G-20 forum have been much on silent grounds. The African countries have recently been vocal about the necessity of inclusion of the AU in the pioneer economic forum. The concurrent calls of the Senegalese president and the current chairperson of the AU, Macky Sall, have sparked interest within the African political community too.
Addressing the calls for the G-20 membership of the AU, the responses from other members havewarm. From the open support of Charles Michel, the president of the European Commission to the recent backing of the Chinese Foreign Minister, the calls for the expansion have been well received globally but with minimal policy formulation.
This particular debacle over inclusion of the AU brings a golden opportunity for India. Supporting the AU’s call for inclusion during its tenure, India can capitalise the existing need for reformation within G-20, during its presidency in 2023. In the premises of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, with the West completely cutting off channels of dialogue with Moscow, India possesses the ability to negotiate consensus within the forum for expansion, being in the good books of the Kremlin. With both Moscow and Beijing pursuing expansion of global alliances to tackle Western dominance in multilateral fora, it won’t be an uphill task for India to bring the 18+2 on board for expansion. This facilitation for the inclusion of the AU will help India to expand its diplomatic footprint in Africa especially with the continent being a free trade area and the AU being one of its initiators.
Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of the Centre for Public Policy Research.