G20 Summit: Success or Failure?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in World

Last week, Donald Trump met with other world leaders at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Here, btw takes a look at the history of the summit and how this year’s summit stacked up against past G20 conferences.

 What Is the G20 Summit?

The 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg was the twelfth meeting of the Group of Twenty, the leaders of the world’s 19 wealthiest nations plus the European Union. Together, these 20 leaders contribute 85 percent of the global GDP. The G20 also make up two-thirds of the global population. The summit is important for global economic stability because it is the only time when these leaders are all gathered together in the same place to discuss world economic issues and challenges. The group began twenty years ago as the G7, but was expanded after the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. The goal is to address current economic challenges, but also to help prevent worldwide financial problems before they happen.

What Happened This Year?

Forklift lifting cargo container at port, Hamburg, Germany

Forklift lifting cargo container at port, Hamburg, Germany

The G20 nations rotate who hosts the event. This year, the responsibility fell to Germany, meaning that Germany got to choose the location and the agenda. German chancellor Angela Merkel selected Hamburg, her birthplace, as the location of the summit. The agenda included such potentially controversial topics as climate change, free global trade, and aid to refugees.

Anti-globalization protests are always expected at G20 summits. However, this year was worse than ever. Tens of thousands of protestors faced off against 15,000 police officers. Days later, over 400 police officers were left injured, and another 400 protesters were jailed. Violence and looting also did widespread damage to Hamburg businesses and homes.

Meanwhile, inside the summit, the United States found itself at odds with the other nations on issues of trade and climate change. German chancellor Angela Merkel closed out the summit by criticizing the Trump administration for removing itself from the Paris Climate Accord. She also reiterated that the other nineteen G20 nations remain committed to the agreement. British prime minister Theresa May and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also openly criticized Trump’s position on climate change.

Trump and Putin

Much of the talk leading up to the summit focused on speculation about what would happen when Trump and Putin met face to face in Hamburg on Friday. Putin told reporters afterwards that the meeting was a success. He said that Trump asked many questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and that Putin answered as many of them as he could. Putin said that he felt good faith and a spirit of cooperation had been reinstated between the two nations. However, a senior Trump administration official later told reporters that Trump didn’t believe Putin’s claims that Russia had not interfered in the election.

The Future of the G20 Summit

While there have always been protests against the summit, the scope of this year’s violence has led many to wonder whether or not the meeting accomplishes enough to justify the expense and upheaval that it causes. Still, the G20 has already announced plans to hold next year’s conference in Argentina. Japan will host in 2019, and Saudi Arabia in 2020.

Dig Deeper Using Internet resources, list the nineteen member nations (plus the European Union) of the G20. Which nation carries the largest percentage of the worldwide GOP?