The world needs more multilateralism, not less. The challenges that command our attention today require cooperative solutions. The purpose of bodies such as the G20 is to build consensus on rules that enhance global economic prosperity and stability. The same principle applies to the management of security, climate change and trade.
However, as emphasised by the priorities of Argentina’s G20 presidency, to be effective, the consensus-making process has to be fair and sustainable. That means being inclusive.
The G20’s important stabilising role after the 2008 global financial crisis is indisputable. But the risks of today’s global economy cannot be managed without forging deeper links between this group and other entities, such as the African Union. Since our shared goal is to accelerate economic convergence, Africa and other developing economies cannot merely be ‘rule takers’, but full participants.
The G20 Compact with Africa from last year’s summit in Hamburg is an important step in the right direction, but we can and must be even more ambitious. Take the issue of migration. It would be a mistake to define this as a humanitarian challenge, to be addressed with more or better forms of aid. A more productive approach is partnership with mutual benefit for all involved. Two priorities are clear: the quality of public institutions and the quality of jobs.
We need manufacturing and industrial partnerships, especially those that incorporate the latest technology and focus on production, in addition to training. Africa needs to be part of the global supply chain. ‘Trade not aid’ can only work if we have high-value products to trade with one another.
Yet too often, openness on trade, knowledge and finance is accompanied by protectionism when it comes to expanding access to good jobs. If access to high-value work remains siloed in certain regions, the fairness of economic rule-making may increasingly be called into question by those left behind. We cannot allow inequality (and the associated security risks) to become entrenched in an implicitly two-track global economy. The consequences would simply be too big to handle.
The best way to strengthen G20 engagement with Africa is via the African Union. Thanks to major financial and institutional reform in recent years, the African Union is more effective and fit for purpose than ever before. We are better able to cooperate with partners on security matters thanks to the Peace Fund.
With the entry into force of the new African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, our continent will engage with the world economy as a single bloc for the first time. These developments mean that Africa’s ability to contribute to addressing global challenges will continue to grow stronger.
Consensus has to involve and benefit everyone if it is to work for anyone, and the G20 is an increasingly relevant platform in this regard. We look forward to working together to further enhance coordination mechanisms in the years ahead, building on the outcomes of the Buenos Aires Summit, for which we wish our host, Argentina, every success.