As the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) gears up to hold its first meeting in India’s financial capital from today, it is an opportune moment for India to present its vision for equitable and inclusive trade-led economic growth. The meeting will also be a platform for India to steer the grouping to reaffirm its commitment to a predictable, rules-based, multilateral trading system and press for its reform.

In this context, Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, observed that, “The G20 grouping is uniquely placed to bridge trust deficits and age-old divides that have stalled progress in trade multilateralism.”

He also noted that, “The issues that the Indian Presidency is prioritising in the TIWG – trade and development, promoting the integration of developing countries and MSMEs in Global Value Chains, trade facilitation and logistics – are crucial not just for expanding global trade, but more importantly, for increasing the share of developing countries in global trade and to promote economic growth and employment.”

Discussions on reform of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) negotiation and dispute settlement functions are also expected to feature prominently in meetings of the TIWG, which will continue till March 30.

Notably, the G20 has played a pivotal role in advancing discussions on WTO reform. The Riyadh Initiative on the Future of the WTO was launched in 2020 by the Saudi G20 Presidency as part of the TIWG. The outcomes under this initiative, which were reaffirmed in the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration last year, contain an indication of both areas of broad consensus and differences. These should be the foundation for more focused work under India’s Presidency.

Another cross-cutting issue which will be taken up by the grouping will be strategies to make supply chains more dispersed and resilient.

Overall, India is well-placed to steer the G20 to offer a fresh, development-oriented narrative on global trade and investment. The aim must be to demonstrate the role of trade and investment as a force for global good, and how it can stimulate equitable and inclusive economic growth and generate employment opportunities across the developing world.