Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Elizabeth Morgan | Jamaica, CARICOM and the G20 Summit

Published:Saturday | December 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMElizabeth Morgan/ Guest Columnist

Yesterday and today, Jamaica, representing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), joins the members of the Group of Twenty (G20) and other invited guests at the 13th Summit in Buenos Aires hosted by the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri. Argentina is the current president of the G20 and is working under the theme 'Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development'. The summit is also marking its 10th anniversary.

The G20 comprises the most influential countries in the global economy. There are 19 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, USA, and the European Union (EU) as a regional group. Their focus is on coordinating global economic policy.

Jamaica, as current chair of CARICOM, has had the privilege of representing the regional group at prestigious meetings - the G7 Summit in Quebec, Canada, June 8-9; the Summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa Group (the BRICS) held in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 25-27; and now the G20.

Commencing in December 2017, Jamaica has been able to fully participate in the yearlong G20 preparatory process. The Jamaican delegation has thus participated in discussions, including on climate change, energy, trade and investment, and education.

 

Representation

 

Speaking about representing CARICOM at these meetings, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September that Jamaica welcomed the opportunity to share perspectives with strong economic partners to ensure that they understood the risks faced by CARICOM members, mainly small developing states. He stated that concerted global action must include:

- Effective strategies to bolster the global financial system;

- A robust global campaign to identify funding for implementing the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

- Resilience and adaptation measures to address the devastating effects of climate change and natural disasters.

- Recall that critical means of financing implementation of the UN SDGs are partnerships in development financing and trade. As Argentina counts down to the start of the Summit, the concern now is whether this 13th Summit will be successful or whether 13 will be an unlucky number.

The summit is to be attended by all G20 members, including US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the midst of a trade row. Also attending, surrounded by controversy, is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammed Bin Salman. Among the specially invited guests are Chile, Jamaica (CARICOM), the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea (APEC), Rwanda (African Union), Senegal (New Partnership for Africa's Development), Singapore (ASEAN) and Spain (permanent invitee).

The Papua New Guinea Summit of the Asia-Pacific Forum (APEC), November 17-18, was not attended by President Trump, but ended without consensus on the communiquÈ. The sticking point was again trade. A positive is that President Trump attended the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg and, in spite of disagreements on climate change and trade, there was a communiquÈ.

 

Anxiety

 

At this point, the cast of players to participate and recent developments should be causing anxiety for the host. It is reported that already there are difficulties with the text of the draft communiquÈ, not surprisingly in the section on trade.

This summit will most certainly be a test of the diplomatic skills of the Argentine president and his minister of foreign affairs and worship, Jorge Faurie.

For a little help in consensus building, they may need to utilise the worship part of the portfolio and request a prayer of intercession from Pope Francis, an Argentine national.

After a year of preparations, I hope that Prime Minister Holness will have the opportunity to reinforce CARICOM's case and be able to have some very useful bilateral meetings. I pray that 13 will bring success.

Elizabeth Morgan is a specialist in international trade policy and politics. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.