The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and decision-making, with members from 19 countries plus the European Union. G20 leaders, finance ministers and central bank governors meet regularly to discuss ways to strengthen the global economy, reform international financial institutions and improve financial regulation. For information about Australia's G20 year, visit the G20 website.
The G20 played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis of 2008-09. Its decisive and coordinated actions boosted consumer and business confidence and supported the first stages of economic recovery. The G20 continues to focus on measures to support global economic growth, with a strong emphasis on promoting job creation and open trade.
G20 members account for 85 percent of the world economy, 76 percent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world's population. The G20 represents all geographic regions of the world, but remains small enough to be an effective decision-making body.
The members of the G20 are:
- Republic of Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States, and
- European Union.
The G20 works closely with a number of key international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the United Nations (UN), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Representatives from regional organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union (AU), the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), have attended various G20 Summits.
Key G20 Dates
Key G20 dates for 2014 can be found on the G20 website.
Australian participation in the G20
Australia is committed to active participation and policy leadership within the G20. Membership of the G20 gives Australia the opportunity to influence decision-making related to the global economy and to strengthen our engagement with the world's major economies.
Australia's membership of the G20 involves a whole-of-government approach under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who represents Australia at G20 summits. The Treasurer and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) participate in G20 Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' Meetings. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer are supported by the G20 'Sherpa' (the Prime Minister's special representative) and the Finance Deputy respectively.
Australia will chair the G20 from 1 December 2013 to 30 November 2014. Turkey (as 2015 chair) joined Australia and Russia (as 2013 chair) in the G20 troika of past, current and future chairs on 1 December 2013. The 2014 G20 Summit will be held in Brisbane, Queensland, on 15-16 November. For information about the current G20 year, visit the G20 website.
Australia's contribution to the G20
- Australia has a strong financial sector, with domestic banks that performed well compared to their international peers during the global economic crisis. Our effective system of financial regulation has allowed us to make a useful contribution to discussions in G20 forums aimed at improving international financial standards, such as the workshop on the 'New Financial Landscape' co-chaired by Australia and France in July 2011.
- Australia is a strong advocate for the G20's focus on promoting open trade and resisting protectionism. The free flow of goods and services within a rules-based global trading environment is vital to Australia's continuing economic prosperity. G20 leaders at the Los Cabos Summit in June 2012 extended to 2014 their commitment not to introduce new trade or investment protectionist measures (as initially agreed at the first G20 Summit in Washington in 2008). This commitment was again extended at the St Petersburg Summit until the end of 2016 (see below).
- Australia also played an active role in promoting discussion about trade as an important source of economic growth and jobs, trade openness, and the domestic economic significance of well-functioning global value chains at the April 2012 gathering of G20 trade ministers, hosted by Mexico.
- The G20 plays an important role in improving international cooperation and coordination on development issues. A G20 development agenda and multi-year action plan were adopted at the Seoul Summit in November 2010. The 2013 St Petersburg Accountability Report on G20 Development Commitments sets out the progress achieved since then. Australia plays a leading role in work on a number of important development priorities, including improving food security, expanding access to financial services for the poor, encouraging inclusive green growth, strengthening social protection and reducing the cost of international remittances.
- At the November 2011 Summit in Cannes, Australia led efforts to develop a G20 target to reduce the global average cost of sending remittances to five per cent by 2014. This initiative could provide additional finance of up to US$15 billion annually for recipient populations.
- At the June 2012 Summit in Los Cabos (Mexico), the then Australian Prime Minister joined counterparts from the United Kingdom and Canada, together with the President of the World Bank, to launch the US$100 million Ag Results initiative. This initiative will support innovative partnerships with the private sector to improve food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries.
- Australia has actively participated in the G20 agriculture agenda, focused on agricultural commodity markets and agricultural productivity as part of the global response on food security. The G20's work culminated in the creation of the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and related Rapid Response Forum, hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In 2011, Australia and France co-hosted a G20 workshop on 'Re-energising Global Agricultural Productivity' which contributed to addressing the decline in global agricultural yields and bridging the gap between developed and developing country productivity.
Australia is committed to consulting non-G20 member countries so their views can be considered by the G20. Australian Ministers and senior officials conduct regular outreach with our neighbours in particular, to ensure that the decisions of the G20 reflect the needs of the region.
At the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia promoted the establishment of an annual officials-level Commonwealth meeting on the G20 development agenda to help promote Commonwealth discussion and views on G20 issues. The first meeting took place in Washington on 19 April 2012. Twenty-one countries were represented, including six G20 members and fifteen non-G20 countries belonging to the Commonwealth or to the International Organisation for Francophone Countries (OIF). A second annual meeting was held in Washington in April 2013.
For information on non-government engagement, visit the G20 website.
Formation of the G20
The first G20 leaders' meeting took place in Washington in 2008. Further summits were held in London (2 April 2009), Pittsburgh (24-25 September 2009), Toronto (26-27 June 2010), Seoul (11-12 November 2010), Cannes (3-4 November 2011), Los Cabos (18-19 June 2012) and St Petersburg (5-6 September 2013).
The decisive and coordinated actions of G20 leaders in response to the 2008-09 global economic crisis restored consumer and business confidence and supported the first stages of economic recovery. The London Summit was pivotal, with leaders agreeing to deliver unprecedented domestic fiscal stimulus packages estimated at over US$5 trillion, as well as to provide an additional US$1.1 trillion in resources for the IMF, the multilateral development banks and increased support for trade finance.
The focus of G20 Summits has gradually expanded to include rebalancing global economic growth, strengthening financial regulation and reforming the governance of international financial institutions. The G20 agenda also encompasses work on such issues as trade, development, anti-corruption, food security and employment.
The G20 leaders' meetings follow on from the G20 financial ministers' and central bank governors' meetings which were established in response to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. G20 finance ministers and central bank governors continue to meet regularly in support of the leaders' process.
Unlike international organisations such as the OECD, IMF and the World Bank, the G20 does not have a permanent secretariat. The chair rotates between members and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries each year. Each chair establishes a temporary secretariat or taskforce for the duration of its term to coordinate the group's work and manage its meetings. Australia's G20 Taskforce is based in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The G20's Achievements
To date there have been eight G20 Leaders' Summits:
- The St Petersburg Summit (5-6 September 2013) focused on strengthening growth and creating jobs. The main outcomes of the summit included:
- a clear statement that jobs and growth are the top priority of the leaders of the world’s largest economies;
- a commitment by all G20 countries to developing and sharing growth strategies; as well as agreement to identify and implement specific measures by the Brisbane Summit to generate new growth and better employment through increased investment and infrastructure development;
- agreement to throw the G20’s weight behind the WTO’s forthcoming ministerial meeting in Bali, and a concrete demonstration of the G20’s commitment to fight protectionism by extending the standstill on new protectionist measures to the end of 2016;
- agreement to work more closely together to fix the leaks in the revenue base from tax avoidance and profit shifting, by working together to change tax rules;
- commitments to continue implementation of the G20’s ambitious reforms to financial regulation, including rules to tackle domestic and cross-border problems when big institutions fail, and addressing risks posed by financial institutions other than banks; and
- endorsement of the St Petersburg Development Outlook which provides clear guidance within which to implement a focused approach to development that will play to the G20’s strengths in this area, and that complements the work of the formal institutions with responsibilities in this area.
- The Los Cabos Summit (18-19 June 2012) sent a strong message about the Group's commitment to promote global economic growth and job creation. The main outcomes of the summit included:
- the establishment of country-specific measures each G20 member would take to strengthen demand, growth, confidence and financial stability under the Los Cabos Growth and Jobs Action Plan;
- reaffirmation of G20 member pledges to increase IMF resources by US$456 billion and to implement the 2010 IMF quota and governance reforms;
- further extension to the end of 2014 of the G20's pledge to resist and roll back protectionist trade and investment measures, together with acknowledgement of trade as key driver of economic growth;
- commitment to further the WTO Doha Round negotiations and press for outcomes on trade facilitation and streamlining accession procedures for least developed countries;
- a call for deeper analysis (by the WTO, OECD and UNCTAD) of the impact on global value chains of restrictive trade and investment measures;
- progress on the G20 development agenda, particularly on food security, financial inclusion, sustainable development and inclusive green growth. Australia co-launched, and has committed A$20 million to, the AgResults initiative, aimed at enhancing food security for the poor.
- The Cannes Summit (3-4 November 2011) was dominated by discussion of the global economy, particularly developments in the Eurozone debt crisis. Other major issues discussed included financial regulation, trade, jobs, food security, agricultural productivity and development. Specific outcomes of the Cannes Summit included:
- the development of a country specific Action Plan on Growth and Jobs to address short-term economic vulnerabilities and strengthen the medium-term drivers of growth;
- a commitment to ensure the adequacy of the European Financial Stability Facility (EU Members) and IMF resources (G20 Members);
- reaffirmation of the G20 anti-protectionism pledge and agreement to strengthen the WTO by considering additional and parallel international trade negotiations beyond the Doha Round mandate;
- agreement to strengthen the regulation of ’shadow banking activities’ and the adoption of an action plan to support the development and deepening of local bond markets;
- endorsement of an Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture, aimed at improving agricultural production and productivity, and increasing market information and transparency.
- The Seoul Summit (11-12 November 2010) delivered the Seoul Action Plan, under which member countries committed to implement macroeconomic policies to ensure ongoing recovery and sustainable growth, and enhance the stability of financial markets. In particular, G20 leaders agreed to develop guidelines for addressing large current account imbalances under the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth; and made significant progress on financial sector reform through agreement on the Basel III package of reforms to strengthen supervisory oversight of the global financial system. Leaders delivered on IMF quota and governance reform, as committed to at the Pittsburgh Summit and made important progress on strengthening global financial safety nets, including enhancement of the IMF’s Flexible Credit Line, and the creation of the Precautionary Credit Line.
- The Seoul Summit also saw the initiation of a development agenda for the G20, launching the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth.
- At the Toronto Summit (26-27 June 2010) there was a focus on the need for fiscal consolidation, with agreement that advanced G20 deficit economies would at least halve fiscal deficits by 2013 and stabilise or reduce sovereign debt ratios by 2016. These commitments would be complemented by ongoing structural reform across all G20 members to rebalance and strengthen global growth. Leaders also agreed to conclude work in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on a new global regime for bank capital and liquidity by the Seoul G20 Summit. They extended their pledge to refrain from imposing new protectionist barriers until the end of 2013 and reiterated support for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round.
- G20 Leaders also welcomed the fulfillment of their commitment to provide a US$350 billion increase in capital to multilateral development banks and associated institutional reforms.
- At the Pittsburgh Summit (24-25 September 2009) leaders designated the G20 the premier forum for international economic coordination. Leaders agreed to act together to support the global recovery through a Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth with an accompanying surveillance process (the Mutual Assessment Process - MAP). There was also agreement to address the problem of financial institutions considered too big to fail, and to reform global financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, to better reflect the realities of the 21st century.
- The London Summit (2 April 2009) focused on coordinated fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to avert the threat of global depression. Leaders also agreed on additional resources for the IMF and multilateral development banks to assist countries weather the financial crisis and to establish a Financial Stability Board (FSB). They reinforced their commitment to oppose trade protectionism.
- The Washington Summit (14-15 November 2008) focused primarily on strengthening financial regulation, with agreement on a 47-point action plan to arrest deteriorating financial market conditions and improve financial regulation over the medium term. Leaders also agreed to resist trade protectionism and work towards the conclusion of the Doha Round.
- Official G20 website (Australia in 2014)
- For more information about the work covered by finance ministers and central bank governors, visit the Treasury website
- St Petersburg Leaders' Declaration, September 2013 [PDF]
- G20 Los Cabos Leaders Declaration, June 2012 [PDF]
- Los Cabos Growth and Jobs Action Plan, June 2012 [PDF]
- Policy commitments by G20 members, June 2012
Speeches and publications
- Media release – Australia assumes presidency of the G20 – 1 December 2013
- Message from the Prime Minister – 1 December 2013
- Media release - G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in Sydney-February 2014 – 20 March 2013
- Media release - Australia joins G20 leadership team - 3 December 2012
- Media release - Canberra to host G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ meeting – 28 September 2012
- Media release - Cairns to host a G20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in 2014 – 5 August 2012
- Media release - Brisbane named as host city for G20 Leaders’ Summit 2014 – 11 July 2012
- Media release - Australia to host G20 in 2014 – 4 November 2011