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Transcript of Media Briefing by G20 Sherpa after G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka

June 30, 2019

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: Good afternoon friends, thank you very much for joining. As you know we just concluded the G20 Meeting under the Presidency of Japan. Next year it will be the Saudi Arabia who will host it then Italy and then in 2022 India will be the host country for G20.

As you know India was looking forward to G20 for many perspectives. The G20 initially was started as a grouping to take care of global economy and therefore it is obvious that a grouping which represents more than 85% of global GDP would focus on issues related to economy. And we agreed to work at leader’s level to ensure that the global economy will be properly taken care of.

Quality infrastructure is one of the important issue. India strongly feels that infrastructure and that too quality infrastructure is a necessity which will spur growth.

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi made interventions in many important events and in that also he says the need for a quality infrastructure. Prime Minister also laid emphasis on the necessity to find out how we can actually work through digital economy, the Society 5.0 which is the vision of Japan and we strongly believe that infusion of technology will create economic opportunities which will breach the digital divide and also at the same time improve quality of life therefore quality infrastructure will play a very important role.

In economy, finance will be an important issue and therefore issues related to global finance whether it is related to sustainable and modern international tax system, whether it is related to technological innovation which can deliver benefits in financial markets or whether it is related to the commitment in applying recently amended FATF standards for virtual assets, all these issues were also discussed.

We also agreed to work on open and resilient financial system grounded in agreed international standards. India under leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been championing that we need anti-corruption measures at global level. So fight against corruption should be done by all G20 countries by combating foreign bribery and to ensure that each G20 country has a law to enforce it so that people committing economic crimes in one geography will not be able to run away to other and try to escape the clutches of law.

This again has been raised very effectively by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Also we are actually supporting very strongly the reason for bringing in Women Empowerment. And for Women Empowerment we already decided that we should work on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. If women can be given education into STEM, they would obviously be empowered.

So we welcome the initiative and we feel that women entrepreneurs’ finance initiative in support of women entrepreneurship in developing countries is also an important element.

Tourism, agriculture have always been very important issues which were discussed at length and we agreed to work on that. Inclusive and sustainable world is a necessity and something which we cannot avoid anymore. Despite the fact that world has grown exponentially in the last 30 years particularly till 2008 world was growing all the time but despite that the divide between the poor and the rich has widened not only between poor countries and rich countries but even poor and rich in the rich countries. And therefore we feel that inclusive growth is only way it can really happen.

Development is therefore an important initiative, investing in human capital to promote inclusive quality education to ensure that we work towards replenishment of the International Development Associations’ 15th replacement money so that Africa as well as other countries will get proper money for that.

Global health is important because not only finance minister of the G20 should deal with the health of economy but we should put money into health so that health can become an important issue. Otherwise if we keep discussing global health from economic perspective but forget the health of the people it will not work. So we actually highlighted that issue and we have shared promoting healthy and active ageing through policy measures is an important issue.

We also have requested that one health approach to tackle Anti-Microbial Resistant (AMR) is an important issue and we will deal with it.

Global environmental challenges which are all encompassing, it deals with land, deals with water, unfortunately also with oceans. Oceans are like mother, mother normally accepts all the fault of the child but it probably reaches a point, which is the tipping point where nothing more can be taken by mother.

I think so far all environmental issues were properly taken care by the Ocean but now oceans are warming up. The waste that is going to ocean is so mammoth that one day we feel that there will not be any fish but only waste in the oceans. And therefore we have shared that healthy ocean is as important for environmental protection.

On climate change there was obviously huge discussion, India strongly believes that climate change is a reality, it’s the biggest threat to humanity, it is the biggest existential challenge to biological life and therefore we must strongly deal with climate change as well as the ill effects of the climate change.

Climate change has two important components one is mitigation and the other is adaptation. We are already embarked upon a major program under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership of 100 Thousand MW of solar 70 Thousand MW of wind energy and therefore mitigation will be a reality soon but at the same time the past historical emission which is there in the atmosphere, which are causing innumerable natural disasters in the world, we need adaptation for it and therefore adaptation is also an important element and we are also focused on that.

There has been a country which did not agree but finally the draft has been agreed by all the countries in the world on climate change as well.

On energy we strongly feel that changing world’s energy mix is an important issue. If you don’t change the energy mix and we continue to use the kind of energy we are using today we will be facing innumerable adverse consequences and therefore clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand side management are very important elements of the new energy policies of the world.

We highlighted it and also highlighted the importance of developing new technologies including carbon capture storage but also energy storage which is important for renewable energy because you know there is sun in the morning, wind in the evening, if we can store it when we need it then we will be able to use it as even grid energy in a significant way and therefore energy storage also has been highlighted as one of the important issue.

We also said environment, we must deal with various kind of environmental challenges including the recycling and all the three ‘R’s which are really important i.e. Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.

We have worked on displacement and migration which is a human challenge. Many people unfortunately are forced to leave their own home countries and they face huge challenges. How to deal with that is an issue that G20 had to deal with and we are glad that we dealt with it.

So at the end of very extensive two day deliberations the G20 summit today ended. India played a very proactive, positive, forward looking role into the entire negotiations, discussion and the decision making process.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who led India’s delegation raised many issues of global concern as well as highlighted the role of India’s new innovation into making change in a manner that benefits all and he said ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ that means we will take everybody’s help for everybody’s benefit, for growth of everybody, for development of everybody, we will take everybody onboard and in the process we will also acquire the trust of all. This is very important issue, most inclusive statement and therefore I think this has been, in summary, what Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He had many multilateral, bilateral interactions, he met a number of leaders. I think he must have met maximum number of leaders during the course of last two-three days and he will be departing for India soon but before that also he is having one or two bilaterals. That shows the growing importance of India, that also shows the acknowledgement Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been getting as a true world leader who believes in changing the world for better through a process wherein technology, traditional knowledge, good governance and making sure that everything is integrated into a unified policy. So we really look forward to the next G20.

I would like to thank Prime Minister Abe, the Japanese government, my colleague and my counterpart the Sherpa of Japan who played a very useful role in arriving at an agreed statement at the end of very intense negotiations which went on for days, I would not say days because I will be making a wrong statement, it went on for day and also nights. I think the last statement ended at five in the morning so I think that is also true because it ended in the morning but started at night, so we really worked hard and therefore I would like to thank the Japanese Presidency, Japanese President, Japanese Prime Minister, Japanese Sherpa, Japanese Leaders for really making it a great success.

Japanese hospitality which is world known and I think that we could enjoy it in full and therefore we really look forward to the next G20 Presidency which will go into Asia, Japan is also in Asia but it is on the other part of Asia and there we will actually discuss many more things in continuation.

We also invite our friends to participate in G20 Meeting just two years from now when India will be completing 75 years of its independence and at that we will also be hosting the G20 presidency.

Next year it will be Saudi, 2021 will be Italy and 2022 will be in India. I am sure all of you will join us in enjoying Indian hospitality as well as enjoy the Indian experience of living together, we look forward to it. Thank you very much. Congratulations to all of you. I also thank my friends in media because but for you the message of G20 wouldn’t have gone to the nooks and corners of the world. So thank you very much and all the very best.

Question: I have two questions, one is, Prime Minister Modi was not only absent from the event on Digital Economy yesterday, but could you explain Indian position on the so called Osaka track and the second question is, you said that there was a country which did not agree on climate change, could you elaborate a bit farther as regards climate change?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: You know on climate change, there has been Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has provided irrefutable evidence based on science developed through the interaction between top scientists of the world who worked as a team, probably for the first time ever in the world history to understand the consequences and the causes of climate change. It is now proved beyond doubt that the cause of climate change is human induced and therefore action is called for and it is also agreed all over the world that delayed action is going to be more expensive and going to cost, and not expensive in terms of just money but also in terms of dealing with disasters that will be happening as a result of that.

We as a country like India, very strongly believe, therefore international action is called for while local action is also necessary at the same time.

We had a very good agreement in Paris wherein many countries in the world have agreed to work on climate change. We strongly feel that we should honor such agreements. There has been a demand from all the countries in the world that whatever money has been agreed and committed to be provided to deal with climate change issue whether it is adaptation or mitigation, should be put on table. But unfortunately we have talked about big money but even fraction of that money has not been seen, so we should see the color of the money and we should try to do that, so we strongly feel that it is really necessary.

We also very strongly feel that international action is necessary so we have done an action of International Solar Alliance which India has been able to do under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi which has resulted in many countries joining from a different part of the world. So we strongly feel that climate change is an important issue and we should try to take it forward. As far as Prime Minister Modi was not there in the meeting, he had already communicated to Prime Minister Abe the reason for not being there.

Question Contd.: What is Indian Government’s official position?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: We have already communicated that to the Japanese government.

Question Contd.: How was the mood of drafting session about climate change?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: Climate change denotes change so therefore drafting also went through a lot of changes because if you are dealing with climate change how can you wonder that draft does not change. So therefore climate change draft also changed many times before it was finalized.

Question Contd.: Was the mood bitter or difficult?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: Those who are suffering from climate change they are at the bitter end of the chain. Those who suffer from climate change they are suffering in such a way that it leaves only bitter taste in their minds. Climate change is causing natural disasters, so they are also suffering.

Question: Right now our President Xi Jinping and President Trump here in Osaka has decided to restart our trade negotiations, so do you have comments from Indian perspective because you also have trade dispute with United States?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: We have trade relationship with many countries. We are the founding members of GATT and therefore subsequently of WTO and therefore we have large number of different kinds of relationships with each and every country of the world, therefore United States is our one of the largest trading partner, we have a very good relationship and we have a very good discussion on that subject.

Question: Yesterday, India had a meeting with Chinese delegation, I want to know what is India’s concerns or stand when you are talking or discussing issues with the Chinese delegation?

Joint Secretary (MER), Shri Suresh K. Reddy: Sorry, this interaction is for G20 related issues and for the bilateral meeting a briefing has already been conducted and our Spokesperson is available and you are welcome to contact him later. Right now I would request the questions to be centered on G20 only. Thank you.

Question: Can you put more clearly why did India not joint the Osaka Declaration on Digital Economy?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: I told you that whatever the reasons were, we have already communicated to the Japanese Prime Minister.

Question Contd.: What is that reason?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: At the same time I must clarify that India strongly believes in Digital Economy, India has massive, probably one of the biggest programs in digital transactions. Under Prime Minister’s leadership we have opened bank accounts of a large number of people, many transactions are happening through digital platform.

I was a Minister of Railways and railways has almost 8.1 billion passengers per year and many of them buy tickets through digital platforms. So digital is something which we all believe in. We have a market which is growing including the e-commerce market and therefore we believe in that.

But also at the same time we have very close relationship with our dear friend Japan and the reason for it has already been communicated.

Question: On return of international economic fugitives and offenders was an important priority for us in the G20 Summit and the G20 processes, was there any discussion on this, was there any commitment from other countries and also if you could highlight two or three areas where India made its contribution in shaping the G20 Joint Communique, specifically Indian contribution.

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: See actually we very strongly put forward the need for dealing with fugitive economic offenders. This has been a strong agenda, we have been working on tax evasion, corruption, economic offences and fugitive offenders, so we have been very strongly championing this.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been highlighting this in all global forums. This is a domestic agenda but we realized that if an economic offender runs away from a country then it is no longer a offender for a country but for the whole world to take care of it, that is what we highlighted.

So we strongly feel that we as a global community must act in unison to deal with such issues of people committing economic offences and running away from their national domicile country.

Joint Secretary (MER), Shri Suresh K. Reddy: Just to add a point to this, we are making substantive progress on that and as sir said there was unanimity in the hall from almost all the countries that this is an important issue which needs to be tackled on priority and so write now a scoping paper is being prepared on how do we go forward in terms of specific guidelines and specific action agenda in taking it forward.

Question: When you were briefing in Delhi about G20 Summit, we had some hopes that some tentative results will come out, so can you mention two-three takeaways from this G20?

Indian G20 Sherpa, Shri Suresh Prabhu: There is not just one or two takeaways there are many takeaways, so if you are going to take away the takeaways please declare that in excess baggage when you go back. There are many takeaways, there have been many issues which have been highlighted by India. If you want we will give the statement to you. Thank you very much.

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