The visit of Prime Minister Modi to Osaka to attend the G20 Summit came soon after his visit to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, for attending a Summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The SCO was formed by China and Russia to ensure that Central Asian countries, which share common borders with both of them, do not become military bases for an American-led alliance, or an epicentre of Saudi Arabian-funded radical Islamic organisations. The BRICS grouping brought together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was regarded as a grouping of the world’s most promising, “emerging economies”.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of economic globalisation, the G20 has emerged as the most influential multilateral economic forum globally. It addresses and seeks solutions to pressing economic issues of the day. Its membership includes the US and European Union members, together with the members of BRICS and regional powers like Japan, Indonesia, Argentina, Canada and Australia.
The first G20 Summit was held in Washington in November 2008 to address concerns rising from the global financial crisis. The G20 has since sought solutions to pressing economic concerns, through regular meetings of Finance Ministers and Governors of Central Banks. International Financial Institutions like the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank are integral to this effort.
The Osaka Summit was held amid concerns of new economic crises arising from President Trump’s policies of growing protectionism. Trump has unilaterally imposed higher duties on trade with neighbours like Canada and Mexico, allies in Europe, and major Asian economies such as China, Japan and India. Mr Modi’s meeting with Trump has led to the initiation of bilateral trade talks that will commence soon. His Trade Representatives are hard-line protectionists, with scant regard for the World Trade Organization, or rule-based world trade.
India will, at the very least, be persuaded to revoke some recent protectionist measures it has taken. Mr Modi appeared serious and engrossed throughout his meeting with Trump, indicating that he was concerned about recent developments on bilateral trade, Iran, energy security, and 5G networks. Having made it clear to Secretary of State Pompeo that India intends to go ahead with acquiring S-400 missiles from Russia, despite threats of US sanctions, Mr Modi did not raise the issue in Osaka.
The subsequent Modi, Trump, Shinzo Abe trilateral meeting was relaxed and positive, signalling the three countries would be expanding economic and security cooperation, across the Indo-Pacific. Moreover,there was a trilateral Modi, Putin, Xi Jinping meeting, focusing attention on terrorism and climate change, making it clear that India was determined to maintain its “strategic autonomy”, on international issues. Nearly a dozen meetings with other world leaders, including French President Macron, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Australian Premier Scott Morrison, followed this meeting.
The personal relationships that Mr Modi established and strengthened in Osaka will serve India well, as it prepares to host the 2022 G20 Summit in New Delhi. The 2019 Osaka summit was marked by widespread regret and resentment at President Trump’s rejection of the Paris Climate Change Treaty, his brash rhetoric and unilateral resort to protectionism.