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What exactly is the G20, why is it meeting and what’s on the agenda?


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World leaders will gather in Hamburg for the 12th G20 Summit this week but other than seeing a photograph of Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Donald Trump with their global counterparts what will actually be happening and why?

What are the basics?

Germany Cabinet
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Ferdinand Ostrop/AP)

The G20 stands for Group Of Twenty, but there’s not just 20 countries in the G20. There’s 19 member countries plus the EU. The UK, France, Italy and Germany are included regardless of EU membership. Germany currently holds the presidency of the G20 and has extended invitations to other nations: Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Singapore.

International organisations also attend: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Financial Stability Board, the Organisation For Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the UN.

Germany has also invited the three chairs of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

That’s a pretty long list of guests.

Yes. The permanent countries in the G20 account for more than four-fifths of gross world product and three-quarters of global trade. Two-thirds of the world’s population live in G20 countries.

The guest list suggests a focus on economics and finance. Is that right?

Currency – stock

When the meetings first took place, it was attended by finance ministers and central bank governors. After the financial crisis of 2008 it was bumped up to heads of government or heads of state.

International trade and financial market regulation dominate discussions but also policies and actions which are entwined with them.

List of previous G20 Summit locations

Such as?

Well this year the discussion will centre on three concepts: building resilience in each individual G20 economy, improving sustainability, and assuming responsibility. The direction of the 2017 summit will be steered by German Chancellor Merkel, as president of the group.

The group is being asked to look at taxation rules to avoid countries having “tax haven” status.

It will also look at the opportunities – and risks – of globalisation in order to convey “the concrete benefits of trade and investment openness”.

Perhaps in a nod to the advancement of more right-wing politics, the document Priorities Of The G20, states: “We must not allow globalisation’s positive impact on prosperity to be diminished by isolation and protectionism.”

What else will be discussed?

Not just for showing off: Here’s your exclusive #G20 miniature encyclopedia. For more facts and figures visit

Posted by Bundesregierung on Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Digital technology, resistance to drugs, money laundering, food security, water consumption, reducing marine litter and anti-corruption practices all make the cut.

There will be a broader theme about empowering women too.

Anything else?

US President Donald Trump (Alex Brandon/AP/PA)

Climate change will be discussed and specifically the Paris Agreement of 2015 which will create some awkwardness for US President Trump. He announced in June that the US was withdrawing from the accord.

But it’s central to G20 goals. Priorities Of The G20 Summit states: “By adopting the Paris agreement, the international community is taking decisive action against climate change.”

When is it all happening?

The G20 summit takes place in Hamburg, Germany on 7th and 8th July.

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