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Thomas Fues

Recalibrating the G20’s Mission Towards Sustainable Development:  Opportunities and Challenges for the German Presidency

2017. Vol. 12. No. 2. P. 34–53 [issue contents]

It will not be easy for Germany to build a meaningful legacy from its current presidency of the Group of 20 (G20). This is not a question of political will; rather, it is related to the constraints posed by international and domestic factors. On the external front, the uncertainty associated with the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump has fundamentally disrupted the G20 process. It seems highly unlikely that leaders will find common ground on critical issues of global economic governance before the Hamburg Summit in early July. Until then, we can expect stalemate and polarization rather than joint action. Given Trump’s statements, his administration will openly challenge the G20 paradigm of economic globalization and international cooperation. In addition, his leaning toward Russia and antagonism toward China will put pressure on traditional alliances, the Group of Seven and the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The domestic context is also complicated and is certainly not benign from the perspective of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Although she and her conservative party are set to win the upcoming national election, a surging populist party on the right is attracting significant attention. The electoral process will make it impossible for Merkel to meet outside fiscal demands, including for the use of fiscal space to reduce the persistent current account surplus.

Despite such adversarial conditions, the German government is determined to lead the fight against protectionism. Building on China’s preceding G20 presidency, Berlin will also emphasize the key relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals to a universal policy framework and will call for special efforts on Africa. However, it remains to be seen if Germany can achieve anything of relevance in the face of these mounting challenges.

Citation: Fues T. (2017) Recalibrating the G20’s Mission Towards Sustainable Development: Opportunitiesand Challenges for the German Presidency. International Organisations Research Journal, vol. 12, no 2, pp. 34–53 (in Russian and English). DOI: 10.17323/1996-7845-2017-02-34
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