- Date 3 March 2017
By assuming this year’s G20 presidency, Germany is taking on responsibility for international cooperation at a very significant time. The global economy is in good shape, and this now also includes Europe. But the risk of war and conflict and the rise of populist movements have made many people anxious. This was not necessarily something we anticipated when we applied for the presidency, but it is spurring us on to even greater efforts.
After all, the answer to the global challenges of our time is not for countries to go it alone, and scaling back international cooperation and intergovernmental agreements is certainly not a solution either. It is simply not true that international cooperation is a zero-sum game in which there are winners and losers. On the contrary, partnerships between countries have resulted in a safer world, and the international division of labour forms the basis of our prosperity.
„Globalisation requires a regulatory framework that benefits everyone across the world.”
What is true, however, is that globalisation requires a regulatory framework that benefits everyone across the world. To ensure long-term security and prosperity, we need to continue to narrow the enormous gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries, especially on the African continent. The Group of 20 is well placed to pursue global governance of this kind, as its membership includes both advanced and emerging economies. It is the best and most efficient forum we have for this purpose.
We want to intensify cooperation with Africa during our G20 presidency. Our central initiative in this area is the Compact with Africa, in which we offer investment partnerships designed to improve conditions for private investment in African countries. The idea is that international organisations that have experience and expertise working in Africa will enter into close partnerships with interested African countries and bilateral partners with the aim of attracting private investors. I am pleased that five African nations – Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia – have already expressed their interest in taking part in the programme. Of course this is a long-term initiative that remains open to all African countries.
The African Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have put together a comprehensive list of modules consisting of various measures and instruments.
They are specifically designed to improve conditions for private investment in Africa on a sustained basis. The main aim here will be to reduce the absolute level of risk associated with investments by enhancing economic and financial conditions. It is important to create a customised package of measures for each partnership. The idea is that, taken together, these measures will lead to a breakthrough in private investment that isolated measures were previously unable to achieve.
The G20 will accompany this process and provide political support. We want to give African countries a visible platform that enables them to persuade private stakeholders of the improved investment conditions and opportunities they have to offer. The finance ministers of Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia will have the chance to outline their proposals and expectations at the meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden-Baden on 17 and 18 March. A major G20 conference on Africa will take place in Berlin in June. It will present an up-to-date, nuanced picture of Africa to the general public and showcase key elements of the investment compacts.
Needless to say, we will continue to work on the G20’s long-term initiatives alongside our new focus on Africa. We must prevent a repeat of the global crisis of 2008-2009. For this reason, the consistent and seamless regulation of financial markets remains at the very top of our agenda. Another important goal is to enhance the global economy’s resilience against sudden crises. Making our countries less vulnerable to economic shocks and better able to face long-term structural challenges requires measures that are politically difficult yet necessary. Debt levels need to be reduced to a sustainable level, and structural reforms need to be carried out in order to achieve sustainable growth and build a stable and robust international financial architecture. We plan to adopt principles for enhanced resilience at the meeting in Baden-Baden. They will serve as guidelines for the national measures to be included by the G20 member states in their annual growth strategies.
Another important area is the emerging threat of cyberattacks. Because the financial sector is so interconnected on a global level, attacks on larger financial institutions can affect more than one country. During our G20 presidency, we will take steps to significantly improve cybersecurity in the financial sector, both in Germany and at the international level.
Not least, the G20 will continue to work on ensuring fair international corporate taxation that is adapted to current conditions. Here too, a coordinated approach is the right way forward. This year more than ever, it falls upon Germany to act as an honest broker and to persuade others that greater international cooperation and an international division of labour will result in more security and prosperity for all.