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G20 will struggle to agree on communique at summit: German official

The G20 will struggle to reach an agreement on a final communique at its leaders’ summit next week in Indonesia, with sherpas still wrangling over many points including wording on the Ukraine war, a German government official said on Wednesday.

Indonesia’s presidency of the G20 this year and its preparations for the Nov. 15-16 summit on the island of Bali have been overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting global food and energy crisis. 

The group of the world’s 20 most powerful economies includes Russia but also countries like Germany and the United States that have imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow over the war.

With the group divided over the Ukraine war as well as other issues, work in the G20 has proven especially tricky this year, the German official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. 

This was underscored by an unprecedented lack of statements at ministerial meetings under Indonesia’s presidency, the official said. Often, the G20 had not even been able to reach a majority decision on topics.

Frictions were such that some countries could try to open up topics where they had already agreed a compromise last year.

Still, the G20 – which accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 60 percent of its population – remains a relevant forum and will address topics from food security and health to digital transformation, the official said.

Factions 

Trade disputes with the United States over what many countries view as its growing protectionism could also be on the agenda, the official said.

Berlin wants to avoid the formation of factions at the summit and will measure the event’s success by bilateral talks as much as by a possible communique, the official added.

The German government did not have a particular response prepared for a possible in-person attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the official said.

Asked if Ukraine peace talks could take place at the G20 summit, the official said it was not the appropriate forum and in any case, that eventuality was still far off, with Russia not ready to take the necessary first steps.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will head to Bali for the summit after visits to Vietnam and Singapore on his second trip to Asia this month.

Germany will seek to further diversify its trade in the region with the trips to the two fast-growing economies, the official said, and show its increasingly strong engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.

The visits follow Scholz’s controversial trip to China, Germany’s top trading partner, which raised concerns over the dependency of Europe’s biggest economy on Asia’s rising superpower after its reliance on Russian gas.

In Vietnam, the supply of commodities will be on the agenda, amongst other topics, while in Singapore, the German government will discuss how the sovereign wealth fund could invest in its green energy transition, the official said.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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