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Italian B20 Presidency Focuses on 3 Key Goals in Recommendations to the G20 on Combating the Pandemic

The Italian B20 presidency of 2021 concentrated on “including, sharing and acting” to recover from the pandemic, to reduce fossil fuel emissions and to create a level playing field in several policy areas. The B20 summit offered the presidency the chance to directly introduce these recommendations to the Italian government.

In early October, the B20 recommendations were handed over to the G20 president Mario Draghi. Their communiqué centered on the goals “include, share and act.” The first category deals with empowering women and the youth, the digital transformation, expanding sustainable financing, supporting impact investments and the inclusion of least-developed countries (LDCs) and micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the global economy. The second should be accomplished by promoting trade and ending protectionism, accelerating innovation, increasing investment in sustainable infrastructure and advancing sustainable governance. The final category focuses on accelerating the race to net-zero, establishing a global emergency governance strategy for future crises, reforming the WTO and creating digital competitive conditions.

However, this hardly scratches the surface of the diverse policy recommendations concluded under the leadership of Confindustria, in lead for the Italian B20 and a longtime cooperation partner of the BDI. The 2021 presidency kept up an ambitious political agenda, maintaining seven Task Forces (on trade, digital, education, finance, health, energy and compliance policy) and two special initiatives (on sustainability and global emergencies and women’s empowerment).

European expectations only vaguely met 

The B20 summit took place from 7 – 8 October and put on high-ranking panel discussions on the following topics:

  • Health, Environment and Readiness
  • Education, Equality and Integrity
  • Trade, Finance, Infrastructure and the Digital Transformation
  • Monetary and Fiscal Leverage to Support Global Growth
  • Promoting Economic Cooperation and Global Trade Management
  • Combating the Pandemic and Promoting a Level Playing Field

Italian ministers for the economy and finance, the ecological transition, equal opportunities, technological innovation and foreign affairs as well as the Italian president and presidents of international organizations such as the OECD, WTO, UNFCCC and GAVI and several high-level CEOs took part in the summit.

Even amid the typical difficulties in reaching consensus in such a format bringing together both emerging and industrial economics, the Italian presidency was able to still put on an impressive summit. However, there were several EU key priorities not properly or not at all integrated into the final papers of the B20, such as the acceleration of the global vaccination rate, the global infrastructure partnership, the global minimum tax and combating tax avoidance.

The Italian presidency is the last for the next few years under European leadership. Indonesia will take the baton in 2022, followed by India in 2023. It remains to be seen how ambitious the Indonesian presidency will be and what they can reach in areas vital to the EU. However, we remain encouraging and look forward to the engagement of German business during the Indonesian presidency.

An important platform for BDI

BDI was intensively involved in the Task Forces, represented moreover by BDI President Siegfried Russwurm in the International Advocacy Caucus, a high-ranking body with the purpose to support interest representation in the B20 process. In September 2021, BDI also hosted a digital “global dialogue” to allow German chairs and co-chairs of the Task Forces for trade, health, digital and energy policy to directly present their policy recommendations to the German business community and the German G20 Sherpa, Lars-Hendrik Röller.