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30 November 2016

Financial markets

Fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions: G20

Abbreviation "FAQ" (Frequently asked questions)
Source:  iStockphoto.com/porcorex

Who is in the G20?

The G20 comprises 19 states plus the EU. The member countries are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The G20 member states represent over 85% of global gross domestic product, three-quarters of global trade and roughly two-thirds of the world’s population. Each presidency also regularly invites international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Financial Stability Board and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to participate in the G20 meetings.

How do the G20 countries work together?

The most visible part of the G20 process is the summit of the heads of state and government, which is organised and prepared by the country holding the presidency. Additional meetings on finance policy issues attended by finance ministers and central bank governors are also organised under each presidency. Intensive political coordination takes place on various working levels among the governments ahead of the G20 meetings. The results of each meeting are published in a communiqué. Chancellor Angela Merkel represents Germany at the summits, while Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann participate in the Finance Track meetings. Other ministries take part in their own specialist G20 tracks.

How are the G20’s decisions implemented?

The G20 is an informal forum. It is not an international organisation and has neither administrative structures of its own nor permanent offices for its members. While the G20’s decisions are not legally binding, the member states make voluntary commitments which carry considerable political weight. Decisions are implemented by the relevant bodies, for example the International Monetary Fund or the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Are the G20 meetings not too expensive?

While it is true that the G20 conferences and summits cost money, the results achieved so far show that the political and economic gains far outstrip the initial expense.

Does the G20 put economically weaker countries at a disadvantage?

The goal of the G20 is to increase prosperity worldwide by liberalising trade and creating global connections that go beyond the G20 members themselves. Harmonising standards for financial and economic issues so as to increase wealth and raise living standards serves the interests of all countries – including non-G20 members.

What is the Sherpa Track?

The G20 summits are prepared by ‘sherpas’, who are usually senior members of the staff of the heads of state and government. The summits for the heads of state and government were incorporated into the G20 process in 2008 as a response to the financial crisis. The G20 summit in Germany will be taking place in Hamburg on 7–8 July 2017.

What is the Finance Track?

In the Finance Track, the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors come together at meetings that are prepared by the finance ministers’ and central bank governors’ deputies and their teams. The German finance minister’s personal deputy holds the official title of G20 Finance Deputy.

The largest and most important event in the Finance Track under the German presidency will be the meeting of the finance ministers and the central bank governors in the German city of Baden-Baden in March 2017. As in previous years, the German presidency will also hold a meeting for finance ministers and central bank governors on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund’s and World Bank’s annual and spring meetings in Washington, D.C.

The Sherpa Track and the Finance Track work together closely, and the results from all work areas are summarised in the leaders’ communiqué. Since financial and economic issues continue to play an important role at the level of the heads of state and government, the finance ministers also participate in the summits for G20 leaders.

The dialogue with civil society and with representatives of NGOs, business, and unions, as well as with scientists and women’s and youth groups, is another important part of the G20. Representatives of seven dialogue forums (Civil20, Think20, Business20, Labour20, Science20, Women20, and Youth20) will be developing recommendations that will be discussed with the G20.

What happens at the specialist conferences, working groups and workshops?

There is intensive political coordination on various working levels among the governments ahead of the G20 meetings. In the Finance Track, this includes specialist conferences, working groups and workshops with the participation of researchers, industry representatives and officials from other ministries. The first meeting of the G20 deputies under the German presidency in Berlin on 1 December 2016 was accompanied by an academic conference on 30 November 2016 entitled ‘Towards a More Resilient Global Economy’. On 2–3 December 2016, two working groups – the G20 Framework Working Group and the G20 International Financial Architecture Working Group – also held meetings.

Digitalisation, one of the key topics under the German presidency, is the focus of a G20 specialist conference (‘Digitising Finance, Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy’) which will take place near the German city of Wiesbaden on 25–26 January 2017 and which is being organised by the Deutsche Bundesbank.

A G20 workshop on the topic of financing small and medium-sized enterprises, entitled ‘Helping SMEs go global – Moving forward in SME finance’, will take place in Frankfurt on 23–24 February 2017 in cooperation with the KfW development bank, the Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation and the SME Finance Forum (IFC/World Bank Group). The workshop is intended to spotlight this issue within the framework of the G20 and to promote the development of support programmes in this area.

Ahead of the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, a high-level symposium on the topic of ‘Global Economic Governance in a Multipolar World’ will be held in Baden-Baden on 17 March 2017. The event, which will be attended by high-ranking experts, will focus on the role of the G20 and the international financial institutions in the financial crisis and on ways to strengthen international cooperation.

The third specialist conference, which will take place in Berlin on 12–13 June 2017, is dedicated to ‘Global Partnerships’ and, more specifically, a ‘Compact with Africa’. The conference is being organised jointly by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation.

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