The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The inaugural meeting of the G-20 took place in Berlin, on December 1516, 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers.
The G-20 is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. By contributing to the strengthening of the international financial architecture and providing opportunities for dialogue on national policies, international co-operation, and international financial institutions, the G-20 helps to support growth and development across the globe.
The G-20 was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. Prior to the G-20 creation, similar groupings to promote dialogue and analysis had been established at the initiative of the G-7. The G-22 met at Washington D.C. in April and October 1998. Its aim was to involve non-G-7 countries in the resolution of global aspects of the financial crisis then affecting emerging-market countries. Two subsequent meetings comprising a larger group of participants (G-33) held in March and April 1999 discussed reforms of the global economy and the international financial system. The proposals made by the G-22 and the G-33 to reduce the world economy’s susceptibility to crises showed the potential benefits of a regular international consultative forum embracing the emerging-market countries. Such a regular dialogue with a constant set of partners was institutionalized by the creation of the G-20 in 1999.
The G-20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. To ensure global economic fora and institutions work together, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis. The G-20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world’s population. The G-20’s economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system.
The G-20 has progressed a range of issues since 1999, including agreement about policies for growth, reducing abuse of the financial system, dealing with financial crises and combating terrorist financing. The G-20 also aims to foster the adoption of internationally recognized standards through the example set by its members in areas such as the transparency of fiscal policy and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In 2004, G-20 countries committed to new higher standards of transparency and exchange of information on tax matters. This aims to combat abuses of the financial system and illicit activities including tax evasion. The G-20 also plays a signficant role in matters concerned with the reform of the international financial architecture.
The G-20 has also aimed to develop a common view among members on issues related to further development of the global economic and financial system and held an extraordinary meeting in the margins of the 2008 IMF and World Bank annual meetings in recognition of the current economic situation. At this meeting, in accordance with the G-20s core mission to promote open and constructive exchanges between advanced and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability and growth, the Ministers and Governors discussed the present financial market crisis and its implications for the world economy. They stressed their resolve to work together to overcome the financial turmoil and to deepen cooperation to improve the regulation, supervision and the overall functioning of the worlds financial markets.
Unlike international institutions such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), IMF or World Bank, the G-20 (like the G-7) has no permanent staff of its own. The G-20 chair rotates between members, and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries each year. In 2009 the G-20 chair is the United Kingdom, and in 2010 it will be South Korea. The chair is part of a revolving three-member management Troika of past, present and future chairs. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term, which coordinates the group’s work and organizes its meetings. The role of the Troika is to ensure continuity in the G-20’s work and management across host years.
Former G-20 Chairs
- 1999-2001 Canada
- 2002 India
- 2003 Mexico
- 2004 Germany
- 2005 China
- 2006 Australia
- 2007 South Africa
- 2008 Brazil
Meetings and activities
It is normal practice for the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors to meet once a year. The last meeting of ministers and governors was held in São Paulo, Brazil on 8-9 November 2008. The ministers’ and governors’ meeting is usually preceded by two deputies’ meetings and extensive technical work. This technical work takes the form of workshops, reports and case studies on specific subjects, that aim to provide ministers and governors with contemporary analysis and insights, to better inform their consideration of policy challenges and options.
Towards the end of 2008 Leaders of the G-20 Countries meet in Washington. See theDeclaration and action plan from the Washington Summit (PDF 72KB) . This meeting remitted follow up work to Finance Ministers. In addition to their November meeting in order to take forward this work in advance of the Leaders summit in London on 2nd April Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will also meet in March 2009. A deputies meeting will be held in February 2009 to prepare for the Ministers meeting.
Deputies Meeting 1st February 2009
Officials Workshop Financing for Climate Change 13th & 14th February 2009
Deputies Meeting 13th March 2009
Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting 14th March 2009
Officials Workshop on Global Economy 25th 26th May 2009
Officials Workshop on Sustainable Financing for Development June 2009
Deputies Meeting September 2009
Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting 7th & 8th November 2009
Interaction with other international organizations
The G-20 cooperates closely with various other major international organizations and fora, as the potential to develop common positions on complex issues among G-20 members can add political momentum to decision-making in other bodies. The participation of the President of the World Bank, the Managing Director of the IMF and the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Development Committee in the G-20 meetings ensures that the G-20 process is well integrated with the activities of the Bretton Woods Institutions. The G-20 also works with, and encourages, other international groups and organizations, such as the Financial Stability Forum, in progressing international and domestic economic policy reforms. In addition, experts from private-sector institutions and non-government organisations are invited to G-20 meetings on an ad hoc basis in order to exploit synergies in analyzing selected topics and avoid overlap.
The country currently chairing the G-20 posts details of the group’s meetings and work program on a dedicated website. Although participation in the meetings is reserved for members, the public is informed about what was discussed and agreed immediately after the meeting of ministers and governors has ended. After each meeting of ministers and governors, the G-20 publishes a communiqué which records the agreements reached and measures outlined. Material on the forward work program is also made public.
- G-20 Work Program – Brazil, 3 January 2008 (PDF 42KB)
- G-20 Work Program – South Africa, 8 January 2007 (PDF 101KB)
- G-20 Work Program – Australia, 23 – 25 July, 2006 (PDF 120KB)
- G-20 Work Program – China, 27 – 28 August 2005 (PDF 27KB)
- G-20 Work Program – Germany, 22 – 23 September 2004 (PDF 66KB)
- G-20 Work Program – Mexico, 2003 (PDF 187KB)