Modi at G20: India scores on terror, sides with G-19 versus Trump on climate change

g20-hamburg-modi1HAMBURG: The G20 summit of the world’s most powerful economies ended in the picturesque German port city of Hamburg on July 8, with a separate Leaders’ Statement on jointly tackling the rising scourge of terrorism and a joint formulation on sustaining inclusive global economic growth.

Climate Change: Trump versus G19

With US President Donald Trump walking out of the Paris Accord a few weeks ago, climate change became an intensely divisive issue, with Mr Trump, known for his mercurial temperament, arrayed against virtually the rest of G20 countries, making it a sort of G19-versus-US power play contest. Protracted discussions among Sherpas and officials of G20 countries went down the wire, ending in a mid-way compromise between the US and the rest on the issue of climate change. “We take note of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The US announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving security needs,” said the joint “G20 Leaders’ Declaration: Shaping an Interconnected World.”

“It was the US against 19….there were serious differences. There were discussions about deadlines….There were tough negotiations on some issues,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the host of the 12th G20 summit, at the conclusion of the two-day long summit at International Media Centre.

“The US states it will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally determined contributions.”

Takeaways for India: Focus on Terror

g20-hamburg-modiFrom India’s point of view, a separate standalone joint statement on terrorism was a major takeaway, which shaped proactively by Indian negotiators. “Originally, there was a plan to have an annexe on terrorism, but India from day one argued that it should be converted into a leaders’ statement on counter-terrorism,” Dr Arvind Panagriya, India’s Sherpa for G20 and Vice-Chairman of Niti Ayog, told select journalists in Hamburg.

“This is really a path-breaking statement,” he said. Mr Panagriya pointed out that the reference to safe havens was done at India’s instance, and was not reflected in previous G20 statements, marking an increasing global recognition of the threat of terrorism faced by India from Pakistan.

In his speech at the G20 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented an 11-point Action Agenda for combating terrorism, which included suggestions for exchange of lists of terrorists among G20 nations, easing and expediting of legal processes like extradition and concrete steps to choke funds and weapon supply to the terrorists. He asked world leaders to unite against terrorism and singled out Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) for imperative global action. Mr Modi reminded the world community that some countries were using terror as a tool to achieve political objectives and pitched for “deterrent” action collectively by the G-20 members against such nations. Equating LeT and JeM to Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, Mr Modi underlined that their names might be different but their ideology was the same.

India also played a pivotal role in shaping the G20 declaration on key issues like corruption, tax evasions, terror financing and sustainable development.

The overarching focus of the G20 summit, under the German presidency, which culminated in the Hamburg Plan of Action was on promoting inclusive and balanced global economic growth through structural reforms. Free trade, jobs, climate finance, excess capacity in steel and investment were key areas of discussions.

Another major focus area was the promotion of an open and resilient international financial system, with nearly all G20 countries standing up for free trade against the rising wall of protectionism, as exemplified by Mr Trump’s America First ideology and policy.

Africa Compact

The G20 summit in Hamburg also culminated in the Compact with Africa, which will entail more active engagement of the world’s top economies with an emerging and resurgent continent, which continues to be hobbled by colossal problems of underdevelopment and poverty.

(manish-chand-photo-2017Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs, and, a portal focused on mapping India’s global engagements. He is in Hamburg to report and analyse the 12th G20 summit. Follow him on twitter@scepticcryptic)

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Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.