In late July and early August Australia’s G20 Special Representative, Daniel Sloper, travelled to the United Nations (UN) and the Caribbean to undertake outreach on the G20 and to hear views from the region on how best to shape outcomes from Australia’s host year.
In New York, Mr Sloper presented on the G20 agenda at an informal session of the UN General Assembly outlining this year’s three key themes of growth, jobs and economic resilience. He stressed the importance the G20 attached to ensuring its actions and decisions complement and strengthen the work being undertaken by the UN. Close engagement with the UN is a priority for Australia as G20 host and separately as a founding member of the UN currently sitting for the fifth time as a non-permanent member on the UN Security Council.
Mr Sloper also held discussions with a range of national representatives to the UN from across the globe as well as senior UN officials from the Secretary General's Executive Office, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Discussion ranged from progress by the G20 towards meeting its objective of lifting collective GDP growth in the G20 by 2 percent over the next five years, to actions in support of growth in employment opportunities, to consideration of G20 outcomes for development. During his meetings, Mr Sloper was also briefed on the UN's work in support of development and economic growth and the work of UN members on sustainable development goals.
Mr Sloper also participated as a keynote speaker at a roundtable meeting with the Global Governance Group (3G), hosted by Singapore. In its role as G20 president, Australia invited 3G members Singapore, New Zealand and Senegal (the latter in its role as chair of the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development) to participate in the G20 this year.
Following the conclusion of the New York leg of the visit, Mr Sloper said, “Having proven its worth in its response to the global financial crisis, the G20 is now shifting its focus to driving sustained global economic growth. We must deliver on what we have set out to achieve, not only for the G20 but also for non-members who are counting on the positive spill-overs from the G20 growing faster than it otherwise would.”
The Special Representative then travelled to Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. In Guyana, Mr Sloper’s program included meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, The Hon. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Sloper's program included a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Winston Dookeran, and the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment, Senator the Hon. Vasant Bharath. Mr Sloper also participated in a roundtable discussion jointly hosted with the University of the West Indies’ Institute of International Relations and the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean.
In Jamaica, program highlights included a bilateral meeting with the Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. Arnold Nicholson and participation in a roundtable meeting with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Jamaica Export Council and diplomatic missions located in Kingston.
Discussions in the Caribbean focused on the G20 development, tax and trade agendas alongside the G20’s growth target. Mr Sloper detailed the G20 work on supporting development, setting the right conditions for private sector investment, including for infrastructure development, and strengthening taxation. He outlined the key outcomes from the July 19 Trade Ministers Meeting held in Sydney, which included the need for G20 countries to do more on trade in their individual country growth strategies and a firm push for G20 countries to show leadership and undertake early implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF). Mr Sloper noted that two-thirds of the expected benefits of the full implementation of the ATF are anticipated to flow to developing countries. Australia is working to assist developing countries to implement the agreement. Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica will all mark the 20th anniversary of their accession to the WTO early next year.
Caribbean representatives welcomed engagement on the G20 agenda. They outlined to Mr Sloper some of the region's economic and development priorities, steps being taken to address these and a common interest in lifting economic growth and job opportunities. Some also suggested possible future areas of work for the G20.
Following the conclusion of the outreach visit, Mr Sloper said, “Strengthening development, tax systems and liberalising trade are central to the G20’s objective of achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth and ensuring a more robust and resilient economy for all. Broad and real engagement beyond G20 members is absolutely essential – their views most definitely count. We need to ensure the G20 has its policy settings right”.
In addition to its work on tax, infrastructure and trade, the G20 is also focused on reducing the costs of remittances for expatriate workers and their families and expanding the use of formal financial services in developing countries.
The G20 is also looking at how the G20 can add value to jobs and growth in low income countries while addressing bottlenecks to agricultural productivity and access to food.
The Special Representative was appointed by the Australian Government to conduct outreach on the G20 agenda during Australia’s host year. Australia is committed to engagement with non-member countries on the G20 agenda as a means to address shared challenges.