In my previous article I had stated that the G20’s lack of a secretariat and the fact that it does not hold the status of being an international organization, the information that emerged as a result of the summits are not binding. Clearly, beyond finding solutions to common global problems, these summits have turned into a platform for country leaders to come together and solve their bilateral problems. In this sense, it would be quite optimistic to expect any serious progress in areas such as global economy, trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, employment, women’s empowerment, and development and health, which are all main themes for this year.
ALL THAT HAPPENED SINCE LAST YEAR
Let us take a brief look at what happened since last year’s G20 leaders’ summit. For example, the number of protectionist measures implemented since the last summit has doubled. As many as 80 percent of the policy changes by G20 countries since December 2018 are are detrimental to trade interests apart from the country that imposed them. There is a sharp incline in the number of subventions and tariffs that will prevent trade. All this has led to a cost greater than $1 trillion in global trade. For example, the impact of the U.S.’s protectionist policies on China’s export alone was $335 billion in 2018. This figure was at about $25 billion in mid April 2019. In response to this, China’s protectionist policies affected about a $150-billion portion of U.S. export. While prior to the tariff wars, one-third of China’s total exports went to the U.S., following the tariff wars, this figure plummeted to one-twelfth.
This being the case, countries that are not among the G20 are also resorting to protectionist policies. As G20 countries fail to fulfill their commitments, they increased their measures almost fourfold.
THE G20 SHOULD NOT BE ANOTHER G2
The impact of the trade war between the U.S. and China on the rest of the world is obvious. We remember such tension from the Cold War era. Though a comparison with the risk of close combat at that time is out of the question, the impact of the fight in this era on global welfare is unquestionable. In this sense,the G20 must be prevented from becoming an organization that watches the conflict of interests between the U.S. and China (G2).
HOW WILL IT ALL END?
I repeatedly emphasized that the G20 will lead to nothing. Yet, it is possible to catch certain clues from the bilateral meetings held by leaders throughout the G20. For example, we can see from the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping how the trade wars will evolve. The meeting between Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will guide us with respect to the S-400 and F-35 matter. Of course we do not expect these problems to be solved completely. But it is clear that certain messages will be given in terms of interpreting how the process will shape.