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Transcript of Sherpa’s briefing on India's participation at G20 & PMs interventions in Buenos Aires

December 02, 2018

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: The G20 Summit for 2018 started on 30 November and today it is concluding. The Prime Minister of India has participated in all the sessions which have been held so far. At the first there was a retreat of the leaders in which the Prime Minister participated and spoke. The retreat of the leaders was exclusively for the leaders. Then there was a session on putting people first; that was the theme of the session, ‘Putting People First, Global Economy, Future of Work and Women Empowerment.’

In the second session there were two parts, one part was held yesterday, second part was held today morning and yesterday’s session was on building consensus on international trade, international finance and tax systems. Prime Minister also intervened and he spoke during that session. Today in the third session i.e. the last session which is on addressing the opportunities in infrastructure, energy transition, sustainable food for future.

Prime Minister also put these things, basically from the point of view of India; we had decided to highlight certain issues and the Prime Minister has in his interventions, very effectively put forth India’s point of view on these issues.

The first issue which Prime Minister of course pointed out was that this is the completion of 10 years of G20 and the achievements which G20 has attained over the last ten years. And the Prime Minsiter highlighted in particular, he mentioned about the G20 cooperation resulting in restoration of growth, revival of growth post 2008. He also spoke about the role of G20 in carrying through the 14th General Quota Review of the IMF; the role which G20 played in operationalizing the BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) which is related to international taxation and also the automatic exchange of information on tax matters. The G20 has played major role in these things. There are other areas also but these are the main points which the Prime Minister highlighted.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the current challenges which the global economy, especially the emerging economies face. He highlighted on the threat of increasing financial vulnerabilities mainly arising from the monetary policies of advance economies, oil price volatility.

He also spoke about the unsynchronized policies of advanced economies and the uneven pace of the revival of the economies of various countries. The Prime Minister stressed on and talked about the escalating trade tensions and the collateral damage it causes to the least developed countries and other emerging economies.

As regards the way forward the Prime Minister emphasized the need for a proactive and reformed multilateralism. He talked about various multilateral institutions and stressed that there is a need to adopt the policy of a proactive and reformed multilateralism basically to activate the various multilateral channels whether it is the IMF, whether it is FATF, whether they are other various multilateral channels and of course the United Nations and last but not the least the G20 of course.

That was one of the important points and the Prime Minister at length also highlighted and stressed the price stability of crude oil because any instability in crude prices causes a lot of pressure, especially on domestic economies to adapt their economic policies because of price fluctuations and such price fluctuations affect and put a big pressure on the budgetary resources and the domestic finances of the emerging economies.

Another important point which the Prime Minister highlighted is the need for carrying out reforms in the WTO. The Prime Minister stressed that reforming the WTO is very important and he also highlighted it is necessary, it is not only important but it is necessary to carry forward the dialogue on trade, in services and promoting the global value chain in the agricultural sector. He emphasized that it is very important that the countries immediately join the automatic exchange of information. India has already started the sharing of information with more than 60 jurisdictions and the Prime Minister stressed that there should not be any shifting of the timeline and all countries should join the automatic exchange of information, the multilateral agreement and start sharing the information.

One very important point which the Prime Minister highlighted was the need to adopt the nine point agenda, or the nine point action plan on economic fugitives. As you know India has already enacted a law on fugitive economic offenders keeping in mind the need for their early repatriation back into India. Not only the repatriation of such individuals but their illegally acquired assets. In this connection the Prime Minister spelt out a nine point agenda for global cooperation against fugitive economic offenders. I think the nine point agenda has already been shared or we will share it with you, so I am not going into the details of that nine point action plan.

You may recall that last year in Hamburg the Prime Minister had, again thanks to the initiative of our Prime Minister, an 11 point agenda on terrorism was adopted. The Prime Minister stressed that it is time to fully implement and fully operationalize the various aspects of the 11 point agenda against terrorism which was issued last year as a part of Hamburg Declaration as a standalone statement.

With regard to various development schemes, under various schemes the Prime Minister spoke about our scheme of the robust and inclusive growth policies which India has been adopting and which India has adopted over the recent years and he stressed on the various components of policy of government today relating to ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ and he explained about the various policy interventions and reforms which India has undertaken.

He highlighted about the efforts taken with regard to harnessing the transformative technologies i.e. robotics, big data analytics, education technology, fintech industry etc. And he also talked about the need for democratization of technologies at the international level for global good.

In fact I must mention that the details which the Prime Minister gave about India’s digital initiatives, the skilling programs, the re-skilling programs and the Indian initiative to share information with 60 jurisdictions with regard to automatic exchange of information. They were appreciated by several leaders during the deliberations.

So I will conclude by saying that there are broadly three themes in this year’s G20. The first priority of Argentine Presidency was food for future. Then the next priority is infrastructure development and third priority is the future of work especially in the light of robotics, artificial intelligence and the challenges it poses in the employment market. So it was an opportunity for India to explain the kind of inclusive growth policies which India has adopted and it was also an opportunity for India to stress the importance of international cooperation, multilateralism, the importance of having rules based international trading system and to have policies which are broadly inclusive. So I will stop here and will take few questions.

Question: You mentioned a few things that have been some of the main debates within the Sherpa meeting for the communique multilateralism, rules-based order and WTO reforms. This morning diplomats seems to think that there was agreement on all those things, can you just describe your latest session with the Sherpas, whether there has been agreement on trade, WTO, steel, climate and migration, thank you.

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: You see the conclusion of the G20 meeting is today, I think it is at about 2:30 or 3:00 and the draft resolution of the communique will be adopted by the leaders. So till the communique is adopted by the leaders it will not be possible for me to spell out what is there in the report.

I can only say what we have highlighted. We have highlighted issues like importance of bringing about reforms in the WTO. We have stressed on the need to implement the Hamburg agenda; you know the 11 point agenda against terrorism. The Prime Minister has highlighted and stressed on the importance of the 9 point action plan to fight the problem of fugitive economic offenders. The Prime Minister also has highlighted the initiative taken by India with regards to International Solar Alliance and he has called upon all other parties which have not yet joined the Solar Alliance to join it.

Prime Minister also talked about the global coalition which India is now working on i.e. to form a global coalition to develop disaster resilient infrastructure and that is an initiative which is on the anvil and already some steps have been taken. These are the things which have been announced and which have been stressed by the Prime Minister in his interventions. At our level, of course, these are part of negotiations. What will come finally in the communique is something which I think you will know once it is issued.

Question Contd.: You negotiated for almost 12 hours, stopping at 6:30 this morning and came back at 10:30, were there any dramatic changes, any objections?

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: I will not go into staying late but let me tell you that this is the fourth summit in which I am participating and every year in the summit the negotiations go late into night, not just late into night but to early mornings, so this is nothing new, this has happened earlier also.

Question: You mentioned some issues that are sensitive for the United States. How did the US negotiators respond to these concerns from India and how did the US President respond to the statements by the Prime Minister?

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: It will not be fair on my part to sort of mention about who said what in a negotiation process because that is held closed doors. So it will not be fair on my part to say who said what and how the negotiations proceeded. It would not be appropriate on my part so I will not able to reply to that question.

Question Contd.: Some of them said that US was resistant to several of these points. Would you agree that there was resistance?

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: I won’t enter into value judgement whether somebody was resistant or somebody was positive. These are all parts of negotiation. In any negotiation there will always be contentious issues and when there are 20 members sitting there, there will be different points of view. The effort is always to come to a convergence.

Question: Did the Prime Minister talk to the Saudi Crown Prince notably about the question of oil price stability or about the question of the killing of ….

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: I think on the bilaterals Foreign Secretary has already given the briefing so I will not be able to talk about the bilaterals because I was not part of that and Foreign Secertary has already given sound-bite on that.

Question Contd.: Did you talk to the Saudi Sherpa about the oil price stability?

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: All issues which I mentioned were discussed in the negotiations. At the end where we converge, finds place in the communique.

Question: How much India focused on the issue of terrorism because our part of the world has suffered a lot because of the issue of terror, especially on financial terrorism?

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: Already a lot of action is happening under FATF and that has been discussed in the finance track. We have finance track also in the negotiations, the role of the FATF and the results of the FATF action that was discussed in the finance track and also in the Sherpa’s track. So the outcome you will see in the communique; but it was an important issue which was discussed.

Question: Can India grow and buy Argentina petroleum and agricultural products?

Indian Sherpa, Shri Shaktikanta Das: This is a trade issue and I don’t think this is the forum for me to go into this particular trade issue. I have to confine myself to the issues discussed in the G20.

Thank you very much.

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