The New Delhi summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) leaders is being hailed as a great success in the Indian media as well as in the western imperialist media.
The major achievements of this summit are considered to be the unanimous adoption of a joint declaration and the admission of the African Union as a permanent member. In addition, there were also some important initiatives announced by different groups within the G20, such as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and the Biofuels Alliance.
Achievement of Consensus
The unanimous adoption of a joint declaration is considered a major achievement because of the glaring differences among the member countries on the war in Ukraine. Such differences had become apparent at the 2022 summit in Indonesia.
Spokesmen of the Government of India have been triumphantly advertising the consensus document as a great success achieved by Indian diplomacy. While there is no doubt that the representatives of the Government of India have worked hard for this result, it is necessary to note that the consensus could not have been achieved without the decision of the US imperialists to dilute their earlier stance of insisting on blaming Russia for the war in Ukraine. The consensus document repeats the generally accepted international principle governing relations between countries, that no country should violate the sovereignty of another country, without mentioning Russia by name.
The decision of the US to dilute its position has to be seen in the context of the declining credibility of G20 in recent years.
The G20 is a group which was set up at the initiative of the US in 1999. It includes 19 of the world’s largest economies and the European Union. The members represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population. The decisions taken by the G 20 are by consensus, that is agreement by all members. The declarations issued at its annual summits are not binding on any of its members. At the same time, they serve to shape international public opinion. In particular, the G20 aims to fool people into believing that the leading imperialist powers of the world are cooperating to address the major problems facing humanity.
The credibility of G20 has been declining in recent years because the contradictions among its members have been intensifying, especially since the US-China trade war that broke out in 2017. The image of this grouping suffered further when the US walked out of various international agreements during the Trump regime. When Biden took charge in January 2021, he committed to restore the leadership role of the US in the world, by rebuilding and strengthening its external relations.
Restoring the credibility of the G20 has gained in importance for the US imperialists in the light of the growth of groups such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in which China plays a leading role. That is why the US decided to dilute its stance on Russia and worked closely with India to ensure the unanimous adoption of a joint declaration at the New Delhi summit.
Admission of the African Union
It was decided at this summit to admit the African Union as a permanent member of the G20, on par with the European Union.
The spokesmen of the Government of India are claiming credit for the admission of the African Union, as part of their effort to position themselves as the champions of the less developed countries of the world, who are referred to as the Global South.
In fact, US President Joe Biden had proposed that the African Union be made a member of the G-20 as far back as in December 2022 in a meeting with the leaders of the African Union. The admission of the African Union serves to hide the fact that G20 is actually a group of leading imperialist powers of the world, including those who are primarily responsible for the plunder of Africa and the persistence of widespread poverty in that continent. The imperialist character of G20 is not going to change just because the African Union has become a member.
Content of the Joint Declaration
As far as the content of the joint declaration is concerned, it is largely in the nature of empty promises, such as inclusive growth, sustainable development and women’s empowerment. While such promises reflect what the peoples of the world want, there is no concrete plan to realise these goals. It is not possible to do so within the framework of the capitalist system, in which social production is driven by the greed of monopoly capitalists for maximum private profits.
Apart from the empty promises, there are a few goals which the international bourgeoisie is pursuing seriously, which have a prominent place in the joint declaration. These include: (i) reform of multilateral development banks, (ii) green energy transition, and (iii) digital transformation.
Reform of Multilateral Development Banks
The World Bank and the IMF have become more and more unpopular among the poorer countries and peoples of the world. They have been widely exposed as institutions that are dominated by and mainly in the service of the US and other advanced capitalist countries. They have served to advance the interests of the monopoly capitalists of these countries, while pushing the less developed countries into ever higher levels of dependence and external debt.
Doubts about the future of these institutions have also grown in the context of the emergence of alternative financing channels such as the BRICS New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingency Reserve Allocation for emergency funding.
The US and the major European imperialist powers are keen to bolster the role of the World Bank and IMF as the primary channels for multilateral loans to the less developed and highly indebted countries of the world. They want to increase the financing capacity of these institutions, and prevent the growth of alternative financing channels. This is the real aim behind all the talk about reforming these institutions.
Green Energy Transition
The agenda of so-called green energy transition is presented as if it is motivated by the aim of reversing the degradation of the natural environment. However, it is actually driven by monopoly capitalist greed for maximum profits.
In June 2020, at the World Economic Forum at Davos, leading representatives of world imperialism promoted the concept of a so-called Great Reset. They declared that the crisis created by the Covid pandemic was an opportunity to make a big change, from dependence on fossil fuels (petroleum and coal) to other sources of energy such as electricity from hydro, solar, wind, nuclear energy as well as biofuels such as ethanol. There has been a big increase in the sale of electric vehicles and solar panels on the world scale.
Moving away from petroleum and coal is being justified on environmental grounds. The real motive is to give a new lease of life to the crisis-ridden capitalist system. The replacement of petroleum and coal by renewable energy sources will lead to the replacement of old means of production by new production capacity in automobiles and numerous other industries. It will lead to the massive creation of new markets and new opportunities for maximum profits to be reaped by international finance capital.
One of the results of the G20 Summit in New Delhi was the launch of a Global Biofuels Alliance, with the US as a founding member along with India, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Argentina and South Africa.
Access to digital services, including digital payments using mobile phones, has been expanding very rapidly in recent years. The Government of India has played an important role in this, by creating what is called the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). The UPI is public property, available to be used by numerous apps, including Paytm, GooglePay, BHIM, etc. The Indian government is keen to extend the benefits of UPI to other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The international bourgeoisie is interested in this agenda because it (i) brings the savings of all people into the banking system, and (ii) gives the bourgeoisie access to data about everybody.
New Economic Corridor
At an event co-hosted by Biden and Modi, a a memorandum of understanding was announced for the creation of an India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. The memorandum of understanding was signed by the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union. It is aimed at developing a shipping cum rail link between India, West Asia and Europe. It is proposed that along the rail link, there will be cables for electric and digital connectivity. There will also be a pipeline for transportation of Hydrogen. It is an attempt by the US to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There are no details yet about financing or a time frame for this new Economic Corridor project.
India is presenting itself as being a major champion of the interests of the “Global South” (economically less advanced countries). The reality, however, is that the Government of India does not represent the interests of the less advanced countries or of the working people of India. It represents the interests of the Indian bourgeoisie, headed by the monopoly capitalists.
The Indian bourgeoisie has considered the presidency of G20 this year as an excellent opportunity to advance its own imperialist aims. Behind all the talk about championing the interests of less developed countries of the world lies the interests of Indian capitalists to further penetrate the markets of such countries and gain control of various precious raw materials. The pursuit of imperialist aims by the Indian bourgeoisie is not going to liberate the crores of Indian people from the insufferable conditions in which they live, nor serve the interests of other oppressed nations and peoples of the world.