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India invites 120 nations to G20 plus summit to discuss debt traps & other concerns

India will hold 'Voice of Global South' summit on 12 & 13 January. Inputs from developing nations will be channelised into larger discourse, says foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra.

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New Delhi: As G20 chair, India has invited more than 120 countries, including some non-G20 members, to a virtual summit to be held next week to discuss mounting debts and inflationary pressures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra announced at a briefing Friday.

The ‘Voice of Global South’ Summit, to be held on 12 and 13 January comes amid global concern over China’s debt trap, which has affected multiple countries across the world, including in the immediate neighbourhood.

Restructuring development and aid finance and how to avoid falling into “debt traps” will be discussed at the summit’s finance ministerial meetings, Kwatra said.

“In terms of the kind of challenges the developing world faces, a large segment has a finance dimension to it, whether it is the fundamental question of ‘how do you finance your development’ or in doing so, ‘how do you avoid falling in debt traps’,” he said. 

This was a veiled reference to, China which has faced criticism for its lending practices to poorer countries like Sri Lanka and leaving them in dire straits to meet repayment or debt obligations and other economic vulnerabilities.

According to IMF data, in 2021, China was the largest bilateral lender to International Development Association (IDA) countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and others. It accounted for 49 per cent of their bilateral debt stock — up from 18 per cent in 2010. 

 “Increasing burdens on developing countries in areas like mounting debt, inflationary pressures are beginning to take a toll on the structural parameters of their (developing nations’) economy. Often, these concerns of the developing world do not receive due attention and space on the global stage,” said the foreign secretary at the briefing.

The summit will span 10 sessions, two of which will be held at the level of heads of state and eight to be held at the ministerial level. 

Also Read: G20 presidency puts Modi’s India in global spotlight. Expectations are already high

Invitations extended to non-G20 members

India seeks to garner inputs from developing nations and translate these into the larger discourse of the G20. 

“India’s ongoing presidency of the G20 provides us a special opportunity to channelise these inputs into the deliberation and discourse of the G20,” Kwatra told the press briefing.

The foreign secretary, however, did not confirm whether countries like China, Pakistan, or Ukraine have been invited, adding that a confirmed list of participating countries would be released close to the date of the event.

 Invitations have also been extended to non-G20 members. 

The event would be an opportunity for “those countries that are not part of the G20 process to share their ideas and expectations through this mechanism”, said Khwatra.

 The G20 comprises 19 countries and the European Union (EU) while non-G20 members include nations like Singapore and Switzerland.

Asked if the summit will continue to take place after India’s G20 Presidency, the Foreign Secretary said it would depend on how the initiative evolves. 

India assumed the G20 Presidency on 1 December 2022, which will culminate with the G20 Summit on 9-10 November 2023.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: Yoga, beach cleanup — how India kicked off G20 curtain raiser in Andaman & Nicobar


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