We have concluded the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, having covered several issues that are of concern with regards to the global economy.
Under the Turkish Presidency, G20 this year has covered lots of issues especially pertaining to development. The work of the Development Working Group has been mainstreamed into the work of the G20 which has enabled issues such as women in the labour market, youth employment, SMMEs and others to receive prominence.
A number of areas were discussed extensively.
Growth, development and climate change
We discussed the very important matter of how we can act collectively and in a coordinated manner to lift growth and to make sure that growth is truly inclusive.
We also discussed how we can make sure that we implement what we agreed in Addis Ababa at the Conference on Financing for Development. And we connected this to the commitments we made in New York with regard to the global agenda on Sustainable Development.
We must aim to eradicate poverty and inequality. We must make sure that all the peoples of the world have access to basic services: health, clean water, and so on.
We need growth so that we can create job and expand tax revenues, which we can spend on economic and social infrastructure investment.
In support of this, the G20 committed to double efforts to reduce youth unemployment by 15% by 2025, through skills development and various training programmes.
The leaders reflected on economic challenges affecting large economies which have an impact on the global economy. These include:
(i) the possible increase of interest rates in the United States which will lead to currency depreciation, inflation and a rise in the cost of borrowing
(ii) the slowing down of the Chinese economy. Of course, President Xi assured us that they are doing everything to keep the Chinese economy strong so that it continues to contribute meaningfully to global growth
(ii) the fall in commodity prices which affects many countries on the continent including our own. This is a double edged sword. On the one hand, oil importers benefit from a low price of oil. But low oil revenues hurt the countries that depend on oil revenues.
South Africa acknowledged the domestic factors that constrain growth and also indicated how we are resolving these.
We indicated that energy generation is a challenge we are dealing with decisively in South Africa. We are building coal fired power stations – Medupi and Kusile. We also have one of the largest renewable energy programmes, which currently contribute 2000 megawatts and will expand to 6000 megawatts by 2017/18.
We also alluded to other efforts like the change in the approach to the immigration regulations which will boost tourism.
We agreed to redouble our efforts to implement our growth strategies which we had agreed in Brisbane last year during the Australian Presidency, as well as the Antalya Action Plan we agreed to at this Summit. In our case, this means we must accelerate the implementation of the NDP.
Terrorism, migration and other global challenges
Given that the G20 met at the time when France had just suffered a terrorist attack, we discussed the issue of terrorism.
All leaders condemned the recent terror attacks in Paris, France. They also expressed their sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the people of France, Turkey and Russia for the loss of life they suffered recently.
Beirut, Lebanon also suffered an attack which led to loss of life and injury to scores of people.
We discussed aspects that underlie the terrorism and migration, which include poverty, violence and insecurity among many things.
South Africa emphasized that despite anger over the Paris attacks, we must not confuse migrants with terrorists.
International tax issues
Another very important area that the G20 has been working on is the issue of how we can work together to put an end to base erosion and profit shifting.
As you know, South Africa, other countries in Sub Sahara and many countries around the world have companies that do business in many parts of the world. Often, they get tempted to shop around for the place where their taxes can be lowest. They look for tax heavens.
This practice is bad. Companies must pay their taxes where the profits are made. This is a topic that we as the G20 we have been busy with for several years. Our own officials from SARS and Treasury have been working with the OECD on this issue of base erosion and profit shifting.
South Africa has signed agreements with over 51 countries on the sharing of information on multinational companies. So there will be no place to hide for tax dodgers.
Arising from the work of the G20, this sharing of information is going to be automatic.
For the first time the G20 discussed the issue of energy. This is a very important matter for Sub Saharan Africa and South Africa.
Under the Power Africa initiative, Sub Saharan Africa must build around 30 000 megawatts of addition energy generation capacity to power the economy of the region.
This will require good planning and disciplined execution, it will require financial resources, and we must do this in a way that does not impact negatively on the environment
The challenge is finding the right balance between the development ambitions of developing countries with the need to protect the environment.
In the lead-up to the COP21 in Paris in two weeks’ time, the G20 Summit outcome on climate change was the most difficult to negotiate.
South Africa fully supports France in its capacity as incoming COP21/CMP11 President and will work towards finding fair compromises and consensus positions between Parties that we hope will lead to the adoption of an ambitious and legally-binding outcome in Paris that is applicable to all. This is important for South Africa’s legacy as the hope of COP17, which set out the mandate for COP21, as it would mark the successful conclusion of the mandate from the Durban COP17, hosted by South Africa.
G20 leaders acknowledged that there is a huge expectation that the outcome should be binding on all Parties.
We have agreed to instruct our negotiators to engage constructively and flexibly in the coming days to discuss key issues, in order to arrive at Paris with a way forward.
I think we are finding the right balance!
Key for the Turkish G20 Presidency was the identification of a numeric and quantifiable youth employment target based on national circumstances as a way to reduce high unemployment rates among young people in G20 countries.
South Africa particularly welcomes the adoption of the youth employment target of a 15% increase by 2025. Domestically, the achievement of this objective will be facilitated through the National Youth Policy 2020 and the Presidential Youth Working Group.
Looking ahead, we believe it would be particularly important for the G20 to also prioritise working to meaningfully address aspects related to equity, justice and, of course, dignity as they relate to employment and income distribution.
Focus on SMMEs
For the first time, the G20 focused its attention on SMMEs, especially in developing countries and Africa.
Ministers responsible for SMME of the G20 countries met and agreed on measures to support SMMEs. The G20 Summit also agreed to establish a private sector-led World SME forum.
The G20 also agreed and recognized the importance of encouraging firms of all sizes, particularly SMEs in developing countries to participate at higher value added stages of global value chains. This will boost our efforts for beneficiation and industrialization, job creation and skills development.
The Summit also noted the forthcoming 10th WTO Ministerial Council Meeting (MC10) which will take place in Nairobi from 15 to 18 December 2015, the first WTO Ministerial to be held on African soil. It is clear that the Doha Round negotiations will not be completed in Nairobi.
The Summit also discussed the key priority area of global threats to the security of, and the use of ICTs, with the risks that undermine our collective ability to use the Internet to bolster economic growth and development around the world. Of importance for South Africa, we committed ourselves to bridge the digital divide.
In the ICT environment, just as elsewhere, we recognised that States have a special responsibility to promote security, stability, and economic ties with other nations.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS