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Merkel at the G20 Summit in Japan

Important signals on trade, digitalisation and climate protection

The second day of the G20 Summit in Osaka focussed on women's rights, sustainability and climate change. In their final declaration, the 20 leading industrial and emerging countries committed themselves to free and fair trade, a reform of the WTO, new rules in light of digitalisation, and to climate protection.

Overview of working session at G20 Summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Scholz at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

After extensive negotiations, we succeeded in "reaching a 19-to-1 declaration, in which the 19 signatories of the Paris Agreement committed themselves to the same things as were agreed in Buenos Aires," said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at the conclusion of the two-day Summit, regarding the agreement on climate policy.

Commitment to the Paris Agreement

In Argentina, the G20 countries - with the exception of the USA - made a commitment to the irreversibility of the Paris Agreement and its full implementation. In Osaka, the states reaffirmed their commitment to the far-reaching climate protection goals. Merkel announced a new review of the climate obligations in 2020. To "some extent" this has already happened "through our initiative of this morning regarding climate neutrality for 2050 together with the Chilean President".

In addition, the heads of state and government committed themselves to financially supporting the developing countries with adapting to climate change, and dealing with the impact of climate change that has already occurred. Germany is already the largest donor to the so-called Green Climate Fund, which supports developing and emerging countries with the mitigation and adaptation measures.

Mercosur trade deal clinched

A great success was achieved by the states in reaching the EU-Mercosur trade agreement. The free trade pact between the EU and the South American countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay will pave the way for the largest free trade zone in the world. The agreement also includes commitments to climate protection and the protection of forests. The deal was preceded by 20 years of negotiations. 

Regarding global trade, the G20 countries spoke in favour of free, fair and non-discriminatory trade policies, and a sound, sustainable investment climate.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged further reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was already raised at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires: "We emphasise once again that the reform of the WTO is urgent, and that the next ministerial conference must make progress here." Otherwise, it is possible that the dispute settlement mechanisms of the WTO will no longer work by the end of the year. Therefore, many Summit participants had stressed the importance of "us also moving this World Trade Organization forward".

On the sidelines of the conference, the United States and China agreed to continue their trade negotiations. As an initial step, the US government wants to raise no further punitive tariffs.

Important signals regarding digitalisation

The heads of state and government also agreed on a declaration in Osaka with the aim of preventing the misuse of the internet for terrorist purposes. This was reported by Merkel.

Digitalisation was already a topic at the Summit on the previous day. In a declaration on the digital economy, the G20 countries committed themselves to regulated online trade. "This is an important signal that we need international regulations regarding digitalisation," said Merkel. 

In addition, the G20 tackled the topic of data traffic, and agreed on principles for the application of artificial intelligence. The European Union still has to draw up detailed rules for this area. These must make it clear "that artificial intelligence serves humans, and that we also curb risks," emphasised the Chancellor.


Strengthening women's rights

The rights of women were also a topic in Osaka. Chancellor Merkel met with Ivanka Trump and Queen Maxima, and thereby lent her support to the Women 20 (W20) initiative. It was a matter of "putting women, especially in developing countries, in a position to be better educated, to take part in gainful employment, and thus ensure participation and equal rights," said Merkel.

Bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summit

On the sidelines of the Summit, Merkel met with Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdoğan. The meeting was about the situation in Syria, and the EU's support for the more than three million Syrian refugees in Turkey. In addition, it was agreed to continue the so-called Istanbul format - "i.e. Erdoğan, Putin, Macron and Merkel" - "to also send a signal once more, especially regarding the situation in Idlib and the refugees," said the Chancellor.

Already on the first day of the Summit, the Chancellor met the American President Donald Trump. In addition to bilateral issues, Merkel and Trump also discussed a number of international conflicts. The main focus was on the developments in Libya, as well as in the countries of the Sahel region, the situation in eastern Ukraine, the dispute between the United States and Iran, as well as EU-US trade relations.

The search for political solutions in dealing with Iran also formed part of talks with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. In addition, Merkel and Al-Sisi spoke about the situation in Libya and Sudan.

In her conversation with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Chancellor agreed to carry out German-Indian government consultations this year. Merkel also exchanged views with Modi on the situation between India and Pakistan, as well as the situation in Afghanistan. 

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The G20 group includes the leading industrialised and emerging countries. It represents two-thirds of the world's population, 80 percent of the global GDP, and three-quarters of global trade. Since 1999, the G20 has met regularly at the level of heads of state and government and in various specialised ministerial conferences, in particular to discuss financial and economic policy measures to stabilise the world economy.


Jun 29, 2019