G20 – the Group of Twenty

The "Group of Twenty", or G20, is the premier forum for international cooperation on economic and monetary policy matters. It is therefore at the heart of multilateral financial diplomacy incorporating many partners.

The G20 consists of the 19 leading industrial countries and emerging market economies (EMEs) as well as the European Union. It thus represents two-thirds of the world's population. Together, its members account for almost 90% of gross world product and roughly 80% of world trade.

G20 members

The G20 members are 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, plus the European Union.

From the outset, the G20 was also conceived as a forum for dialogue with the Bretton Woods institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Both organisations are thus ex officio members of the G20 and participate in all discussions. Other international organisations are involved as needed, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the United Nations (UN).

In addition, the country holding the presidency typically invites other countries and regional organisations to the meetings. These invitees regularly include Spain as well as the leaders of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the African Union. For the year of its presidency, Germany has also extended invitations to the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.

The G20's work

The G20 was established in 1999 in response to the Asian crisis of the late 1990s and the growing importance of EMEs to the world economy. At the time, the group of seven major industrial nations (G7) resolved to create a mechanism for enhanced dialogue between industrial countries and EMEs. The core focus of the G20 is on global economic development as well as strengthening the international monetary system and financial stability.

From 1999, G20 meetings were initially attended exclusively by the finance ministers and central bank governors of member states. In the wake of the global financial crisis, the G20 heads of state or government have, since 2008, also come together at an annual summit, which discusses issues going beyond the scope of those addressed by finance ministers and central bank governors.

Like the G7, the G20 is also an informal forum. It is not an international organisation and has no autonomous administration or permanent secretariat formed of its members. The member states take on the special role of chairing the G20 on an annually rotating basis. To ensure a smooth transition when the presidency is handed over, there is coordination among the past, present and future chairs, referred to as the G20 Troika.

German presidency

Germany's G20 presidency runs from 1 December 2016 until the end of November 2017. During this time, it also chairs the G20 Troika, whose other members are China, as the previous holder of the presidency, and Argentina, as the next in line.

The tasks of the presidency include setting the agenda and organising the G20 meetings. The 2017 summit of the G20 heads of state or government will be held on 7 and 8 July in Hamburg. Prior to that, the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will convene their first meeting on 17 and 18 March in Baden-Baden. They will also meet on the sidelines of the IMF meetings in April and October in Washington.