G20 and APEC: Turkish and Philippine presidencies
(The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2015 - 9:00am

All eyes and ears will be in Antalya and Manila next week, as Turkey and the Philippines will host the G20 and APEC Leaders Summits on 15-16 November and 18-19 November respectively.

Turkey has been steering the work of G2O since December last year with the theme of “Collective Action for Inclusive and Robust Growth.” We have defined our priorities for 2015 as three I’s – Inclusiveness, Implementation and Investment for Growth.

The APEC 2015 theme is “Building Inclusive Economies, Building A Better World” and the Turkish priorities overlap mostly with the priorities of the APEC Presidency of the Philippines. 

G-20 represents about two thirds of the world population, 75 percent of world trade and 85 percent of the global GDP. However, it does not cover all the countries of the world and is home to half of the world´s poor. Thus, Turkey has aimed for inclusiveness throughout its G-20 presidency. There are different aspects of this concept, though. For example, inclusive growth is crucial in eliminating inequalities and poverty and as such was addressed as a priority. 

Since development has always been a core agenda item of  G20, during our presidency, taking into account also the global aspects of inclusiveness we have tried to build better bridges with the low-income developing countries (LIDCs) focusing on their needs and  potentials. This was also a preparation, in a way, for the UN Midterm Review Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC) to be held in Turkey in June next year as a  follow-up to  the 4th UN Conference on LDCs which was also organised in Istanbul in 2011.

On the domestic dimension of inclusivity, the importance of the SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) was highlighted throughout the year and ways to better integrating them into the global economy was discussed. In our experience in Turkey, SMEs are the backbone of our economy, which in fact is the case in many developing countries. They constitute an important part of the economic structure even in some advanced economies. In this respect, the World SME Forum (WSF) was officially launched on 23 May 2015 in Istanbul as a global initiative for the SMEs by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the World Chambers Federation (WCF).

As a key element of the inclusiveness agenda, the Turkish Presidency also focused on developing and implementing policies to better integrating disadvantaged groups such as women and youth into the labour markets.

On the Implementation priority, we have given special importance to the implementation of our growth strategies. The G20 members have committed to more than 1,000 reforms to ensure that the collective growth objective is met. In an effort to keep us accountable to our commitments, we have developed a robust implementation monitoring mechanism.

The third priority, Investment, was likewise a central theme for the 2015 G20 agenda. Investments in general, infrastructure investments in particular are vital for all countries. In this regard, special focus was given on how to channel more private resources  into public infrastructure investments.

Trade was also an important agenda item during our presidency since it is an essential tool for growth and employment. Achieving the growth target of G20 is possible through increased global trade and to this end supporting a strong and efficient multilateral trading system where WTO is at the core is fundamental.

Throughout our Presidency we have also worked closely with several engagement groups, namely the B-20 (Business Interaction Group), the L-20 (Labour Unions), the T-20 (Think-Tanks), the Y-20 (Youth) and the C-20 (Civil Societies).

Furthermore, in order to promote gender inclusive economic growth we launched a new G20 engagement group, the Women-20 (W20) which held its first ever Summit on 16-17 October 2015 in Istanbul. 

Energy access for all and global food safety issues were prioritised as well. To this end, Istanbul hosted the G20 Energy Ministers Meeting for the first time on 2 October 2015. A High-Level Conference on Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa was held a day before the Ministerial Meeting on 1 October 2015.

G-20 Food and Agriculture Ministers Meeting as well as an informal meeting of the Tourism Ministers were also held on 6-8 May 2015 and on 29-30 September 2015 subsequently.

Moreover, attaching importance to dialogue with non-G20 countries, regional groups and institutions, the Turkish Presidency conducted an extensive outreach programme throughout the year.

G20 and APEC Presidencies of Turkey and the Philippines come at a particularly important year for climate change which is a major global challenge of our times requiring global action and effecting countries such as the Philippines the most. Hence, during our Presidency we have endeavoured for a greater involvement of the private sector in the financing of climate change as well as preparing for 21st UNFCCC Conference to be held in December this year.

In our globalised world, no country can succeed on its own. Collective efforts and actions are  imperative as much as domestic policies in achieving  balanced economic growth and sustainable development. And, G20 and APEC remain as key platforms where collective decisions on global economy are taken for implementation. However, this is a challenging and ongoing process where the support and positive contribution of all countries and stakeholders are required.

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(Esra Cankorur is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey)


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