Negotiators from G20 nations are intensively working to bridge gaps on a wide range of critical issues, from India’s flagship initiatives like Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) to curbing fossil fuel usage, as discussions revolve around a draft declaration for leaders. Although much attention has centered on the divisions between G7 countries and emerging economies concerning Ukraine, the Indian delegation is also grappling with divergences on topics such as debt restructuring, green development funding, cryptocurrency regulation, and the proposal to grant the African Union (AU) full G20 membership.
Throughout its G20 presidency, India has been vigorously promoting DPI, particularly the “India Stack” consisting of open APIs and digital public goods. The Global South and developing economies within the G20 have shown interest in DPI, especially solutions developed by India to bridge the digital divide. These encompass the use of technology for secure subsidy transfers through the JAM trinity (Jan-Dhan accounts, Aadhaar identification, and mobile phones), as well as fintech innovations like the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Rupay credit card, and the RBI’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
However, some developed countries have not fully embraced India’s plan to globalize DPI at no cost. Additionally, there has been lobbying against these efforts by Western payment processing networks, making unanimity on this matter elusive within the G20.
India has offered to oversee a repository of DPI while exploring financing options from multilateral institutions and non-governmental bodies to implement digital solutions in developing nations.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia have resisted efforts to boost renewable energy capacity and reduce fossil fuel usage. Several European nations have also disagreed with India regarding a potential regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies.
Throughout various ministerial meetings, China has obstructed initiatives related to debt restructuring, DPI rollout, women-led development, and even India’s theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family), citing Sanskrit’s non-official status in the United Nations.
China’s opposition to these matters, along with President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip the G20 Summit, appears linked to the strained India-China relations stemming from a military standoff on the Line of Actual Control since May 2020.
India’s proposal to grant the AU full G20 membership has also faced resistance from ASEAN members and Australia on various grounds. While some nations suggest making the AU’s rotational chair an invitee to the G20 process, others argue that the African bloc’s inclusion could alter the G20’s character.
As differences over the Ukraine crisis continue to widen, it seems increasingly likely that their resolution may have to be left to top leadership, given the entrenched divergences over the conflict. Russia and China insist that the G20 is not the appropriate forum for addressing this issue. The road ahead for these global negotiations remains challenging, with multiple contentious matters demanding delicate diplomacy and careful negotiation.