“We did it together!” – this was the atmosphere, that filled the B20 Summit on 4 and 5 October in Buenos Aires. On this occasion, participants from the international business community convened to celebrate the highlight-event of the B20 process as well as their common efforts to elaborate on business policy recommendations for the G20. During the Summit these recommendations were presented to G20 Chair and Argentine President Mauricio Macri. The hand-over ceremony was by no means the only event of the Summit – on 4 October, numerous high-level panels featured, among others, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and several Argentine Ministers. Ingo Kramer, representative of B20 Germany at this year’s B20 Summit, participated in the panel “B20 Troika and G20 Conversation”. The panel focused on continuities and innovations in the B20 process. In this context, the introduction of the digitalization taskforce, of the Health Initiative and of the systemic outreach to the other G20 Engagement Groups under the German B20 Presidency were highlighted. Furthermore, the panel conveyed expectations about the challenges for the upcoming Japanese B20 Presidency. Shuzo Sumi, Vice-Chairman of Keidanren, also participated in the panel. Keidanren will be leading the B20 process under the Japanese Presidency.
Further panels on 5 October discussed „Infrastructure + Energy: Two Powerhouses for Development”, „Transparency: Precondition for Growth“, and the „Multilateral Trading System: Rethink, Reboot“. The latter panel was moderated by the German B20 Sherpa, Stormy-Annika Mildner. The panel focused on the eroding consensus in multilateral cooperation, and urged the G20 Heads of States and Governments to take responsibility and provide the necessary foundation for international cooperation in trade. All panels resulted in invigorating and thought-provoking discussions, which were also continued during the numerous interesting side-events. The open atmosphere during these events as well as the location and the outstanding organization invited to networking and further exchange about global challenges and possible solutions.
The B20 Summit was the highlight event of this year’s B20 process. More than 1.700 representatives of companies and business associations elaborated on policy recommendations in eight taskforces. These taskforces focused on topics of global relevance for businesses such as digitalization, multilateral trade, and resource efficiency. Overall 73 recommendations were included in the final B20 Communiqué. B20 Germany welcomes that this year’s recommendations address the most challenging issues in the field of digitalization and in multilateral trade. The taskforce "Trade and Investment" refers – for the first time in a B20 process – to state-owned enterprises and calls on the implementation of a level playing field, so that no G20 Member may grant state-owned enterprises competitive advantages. The B20 recommendations furthermore encourage governments to strengthen the WTO-based system of multilateral trade. Therefore, governments should initiate discussions on structural-functional improvements of the WTO; such discussions should focus in particular on addressing the shortcomings of the dispute settlement mechanism.
In the field of digital trade, the B20 recommendations call on governments to follow a pluri-lateral approach and to elaborate on international, robust, future-oriented and non-discriminatory politics in order to increase the benefits of digital trade for everyone. Discussions about digital trade should be pursued under the auspices of the WTO. Therefore, it is necessary for governments to reduce barriers to free data flows, to clearly define data protection standards and to foster international cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.
B20 Germany furthermore welcomes the recommendation to improve cybersecurity and to foster in particular the exchange between governments and the industry in order to achieve a holistic approach in cybersecurity management. B20 Germany also strongly supports the recommendation to promote the development and implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies, with special focus on SMEs. The facilitated access of SMEs to the digital economy and the digital transformation of SMEs are central demands of this year’s B20 process. B20 Germany considers the recommendations in the field of SMEs essential. The same applies to the taskforces “Energy, Resource Efficiency and Sustainability”.
After a B20 cycle full of lively discussion, we would like to congratulate the Argentine B20 Presidency and the entire Argentine B20 team on a stimulating and invaluable B20 process! Due to the efforts and the commitment of the Argentine Presidency, we now have a B20 Communiqué in our hands which includes 73 innovative and actionable recommendations. Furthermore, we experienced a memorable B20 Summit!
We are now looking forward to the G20 Summit on 30 November and 1 December in Buenos Aires! Against the backdrop of the current international political situation, it remains to be seen in which thematic areas unanimity can be achieved. Difficult negotiations are expected particularly in the area of climate, the WTO and multilateral trade. B20, however, has made its contribution to this year’s process – now it is the G20’s turn.