G20 talks dominated by Paris attacks

G20 talks dominated by Paris attacks

Rather than focusing on impending economic issues, the Paris attacks overshadowed the G20 Summit this week as leaders discussed ways to counter the threat of domestic terrorism inspired by the Islamic State.

As world leaders gathered this week for The Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in Antalya, Turkey, the focus of discussions centered around international efforts to counter the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) in light of the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut over the weekend.

The international conference historically has been a forum for governments and central bank leaders from the top twenty major economies in the world to discuss cooperative economic strategies.

However, the recent horrific attacks in Paris by ISIS added a new sense of urgency for G20 nations to address the threat of terrorism. The prominence of security issues during the summit underscores the priority of security for global economic stability.

Key Takeaways

The most significant outcome from the summit included pledges by international leaders to strengthen their commitment in the fight against ISIS.

The Group of 20 leaders promised to cooperate on managing borders, sharing information on suspected terrorists, airline safety, countering terrorist propaganda and freezing terrorist assets.

Specifically, leaders urged quicker implementation of the Financial Action Task Force, which involves stopping individuals from sending money to terrorist organizations like ISIS. Terrorist financing was first addressed during the G20 summit following the Sept 11 attacks in the U.S.

President Barack Obama among other world leaders pledged solidarity to France in wake of the attacks, saying “ISIS is the face of evil” and urging nations to work together to confront the threat. Obama remained committed to current U.S. policy towards the wars in Iraq and Syria however, maintaining that the U.S. will not send a large number of U.S. troops to either country.

Refugee issues also featured prominently during discussions. EU leaders said it would continue to maintain current status quos on registered refugees, despite the fact that one of the suspects of the Paris attacks came from Syria, an issue that is likely to further complicate border policies.

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said before the summit: “We should not mix the different categories of people coming to Europe. The one responsible for the attacks in Paris … he is a criminal and not a refugee and not an asylum seeker.”

In addition, Turkey urged summit leaders for more financial aid to help the country cope with the million Syrian refugees flooding across the border, which is having a negative impact on Turkey both culturally and economically.

Reaching a political solution to end the conflict in Syria was also a major topic during the summit.

In private meetings, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are reported to have reached a consensus on the need for a Syria-led political transition to end the conflict, marking a significant step in U.S.-Russian relations as it pertains to the Syrian war.

Economic Challenges Take a Backseat

While the summit included productive talks on key security issues facing G20 leaders, the conference did little to address major steps for alleviating impending economic challenges engulfing the world economy. Leaders hardly touched upon specific measures to curb the effects of China’s slowdown and subsequent turmoil across emerging markets as well as plunging oil prices.

In the past, the summit has had success in delving out new plans to boost growth.

In 2009, for example, the G20 leaders pushed a $2 trillion plan to boost the world’s growth rate by two percentage points. However since then, countries have struggled to jumpstart international markets as security and political challenges have hindered quicker growth.

High debt levels have also impacted government spending in G20 countries. Though some progress has been made since 2009, budget deficits are twice pre-2009 levels in rich countries.

As a result, The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly cut growth outlook figures over the past few years rather than raise them.

Leaders this week, however, did manage to endorse a plan by the summit’s finance ministers aimed at ensuring companies that work internationally pay taxes in those overseas countries instead of shifting profits into their home tax havens. The issue has spurred controversy recently, especially in the EU.

Still, the move is unlikely to have enough of a profound impact on boosting international growth.

Looking Ahead

Overall, the G20 Summit was highly productive as the world’s top nations pledged their commitment towards reducing the threat of terrorism.

Moving forward, however, G20 nations should focus on improving security and intelligence coordination among each other, as well as enact stronger measures to boost investments to encourage worldwide growth.

Political conflicts and wars from countries such as the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan cost regional and world economies hundreds of billions of dollars every year. As such, the link between security and economic growth is ever more pertinent and world leaders should continue to address challenges from both sides.

By ignoring the economic implications global conflicts have on budget levels, the G20 countries risk greater economic vulnerability.

Categories: Europe, International

About Author

Madeleine Moreau

Madeleine Moreau is the GRI Senior Commissioning Editor and a Senior Analyst currently based in Beirut, Lebanon. She specializes in investment risk and opportunity in the Middle East and has previously lived in Jordan and Morocco. Her work and insight have appeared in several leading publications, including Business Insider, TechCrunch, Oilprice.com, The Atlantic Council, Yahoo News and OZY. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Arabic from Middlebury College.