Dec 18, 2018
Jiang Shixue: G20 should head for institutionalization
Jiang Shixue: G20 should head for institutionalization

Ten years have passed since the first G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy took place in 2008, in Washington, D.C. In a sense, G20 is the “child” of the global financial crisis triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and also the collapse of the Lehman Brothers Holdings from 2007 to 2008.

At that time, G20 was not designed as a policy tool to deal with the financial tsunami. It only offered a platform where developed and developing countries could discuss ways of dealing with the great shock.

After the world economy went out of the woods a few years ago, it was widely believed that the role of the G20 should be adjusted to meet the new situation of the world.

The G20 itself has already realized the importance and necessity of reforming itself. According to the G20 Leaders' Communique released during Hangzhou Summit in 2016, it was agreed that, as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, G20 would “forge a comprehensive and integrated narrative for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, and thereby adopt the attached package of policies and actions,” which was dubbed as the Hangzhou Consensus.

Therefore, when the leaders of the G20 summit meet in Buenos Aires from November 30 to December 1, it is the right time to ask how much the role of the G20 has changed.

Generally speaking, if an international forum or an organization wishes to play an important role, it must fulfill three conditions: legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency. The G20 members are composed of the most important economies of the world. So there is no question of legality. Regarding effectiveness and efficiency, however, more needs to be done as it still has the characteristics of a talk-shop.

To overcome the trap of a talk-shop to strengthen its effectiveness and efficiency, the G20 must be institutionalized. In regards to the first step towards this direction, a permanent secretariat must be in place to make up for the shortcomings of the existing mechanism of rotating presidency.

A would-be permanent secretariat can undertake such obligations as dealing with preparation work for the G20 summit and overseeing how much has been implemented by the members according to what is required by the Joint Communique and other documents.

Nevertheless, an institutionalized G20 requires more coordination and consultation among its members.  Without institutionalization, the G20 still needs to respect the mechanism of reaching consensus through consultation. Otherwise, it will do no good for the unity of the diversified platform.

Jiang Shixue, Academic Committee Member, the Pangoal Institution;

Distinguished Professor and Director ,Latin American Research Center, Shanghai University

Former Deputy Director, Latin American Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 

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