Modi at G20 summit: What to expect in Osaka


OSAKA (JAPAN): Buoyed by a spectacular electoral victory which has made him one of the world’s most powerful democratic leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek global support from the world’s most advanced economies to fructify his dream of achieving the target of $5 trillion economy and creating a “New India” at the G20 summit in Osaka.

Abe’s G20 agenda

The June 28-29 G20 summit in Osaka is taking place amid an upsurge of protectionism and alt-right sentiments, which has necessitated close coordination among G20 economies to protect multilateralism and the rules-based global trading order. In an article written ahead of the summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rightly set the tone for the Osaka summit. “The first agenda item concerns what I believe is the most important challenge of our times: working to maintain and ultimately strengthen the international order for free and fair trade.” Alluding to priorities for the Japanese presidency of the G20, the Japanese leader also focused on the opportunities and challenges generated by the digitalization of the economy and the importance of innovation in tackling global environmental challenges.

Protecting free trade

Being the leader of the world’s fastest growing economy, PM Modi has a rare opportunity to shape the G20 agenda on these three cross-cutting global issues. One can expect PM Modi to make an eloquent intervention against the dangers of protectionism and to make a common cause with like-minded countries against attempts to subvert the rules-based trading regime.

Mr Modi is also expected to pitch for restoring the centrality of the WTO in the international trade architecture and fast-tracking the reforms of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism which is being stalled by some countries. “We strongly feel that the WTO’s role in regulating global trade should be strengthened,” said Mr Suresh Prabhu, India’s Sherpa for G20 summit and a former Commerce Minister. Reformed multilateralism, which PM Modi introduced at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg last year, will also feature in PM’s interventions at the Osaka summit.

Targeting fugitive economic offenders

With an eye on his domestic constituency back home, PM Modi is expected to press the global community for enhanced cooperation in bringing back fugitive economic offenders who have defrauded the country of millions of dollars. In particular, PM Modi will seek the support of G20 countries for curbing the practice of investment-based citizenship which is being exploited by fugitive economic offenders like Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi. In his charged election campaign, PM Modi had promised to bring back high-profile economic fugitives to India to face legal consequences for their crimes.

Isolating Pakistan

Building on his 11-point agenda in tackling terrorism at the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, PM Modi will push for enhanced international cooperation against states that support and sponsor terrorism – a veiled but obvious reference to Pakistan. Significantly, this is the first major multilateral summit PM Modi will be attending after the retaliatory air strike against Pakistan-terror camps in February in response to the killing of Indian soldiers in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. At the SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on June 14, Modi had highlighted the dangers of cross-border terrorism that continues to be perpetrated by Pakistan against India. Two years ago, at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Modi had 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 is also expected to seek the support of the international community for a global conference on combating terrorism.

Multi-alignment & Indo-Pacific

Most important, the G20 summit in Osaka will see India engaging in creative multi-alignment whereby it will team up with Russia and China against the US-driven protectionism on the one hand in RIC format, and ally with the US and Japan (JAI) to shape an inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Issues relating to the Indo-Pacific are also expected to figure prominently in the talks between PM Modi and US President Donald Trump.

Mr Modi is also expected to hold bilateral talks with the leaders of Japan, Australia and Turkey, among others, on the side-lines of the G20 summit in Osaka. Put together, this across-the-spectrum engagement at the G20 summit will showcase the deftness of Indian diplomacy and its strategic autonomy in managing ties with key power centres in the world, with the overarching objective of shaping the global agenda to promote India’s resurgence.

(Manish Chand is CEO & Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and the World magazine. He is in Osaka, Japan, to report on and analyse the G20 summit of the world’s leading economies. Follow him on twitter@ scepticcryptic)

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Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) 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.