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Transcript of Media Briefing by Sherpa G-20 on the forthcoming G-20 Summit at Antalya, Turkey (November 10, 2015)

November 10, 2015

Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): Welcome to the second briefing. This, as we had mentioned earlier, will be on the forthcoming G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey which Prime Minister Modi will be attending. I am very proud to have with me today Dr. Arvind Panagariya who is the Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog and he is also the Sherpa for the G-20. With him we have Dr. Usha Titus who is Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs and of course Mr. Charanjeet Singh who is Joint Secretary, Multilateral Economic Relations. So, with that I give the floor to Dr. Arvind Panagariya.

Sherpa G-20 (Dr. Arvind Panagariya): Thank you. The Prime Minister will be leading the Indian delegation to the 10thG-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on 15th and 16thNovember. He will be accompanied by senior officers from PMO, MEA and DEA and I will join him for the summit as his G-20 Sherpa. Assuming the G-20 presidency from Australia in December, 2014, Turkey had described its G-20 agenda by the three I's- inclusiveness, implementation and investment for growth.

Growth has been generally the main focus of the G-20 in almost every presidency. The G-20 countries had agreed in the very beginning of the Turkish presidency that the leaders’ communiqué to be issued at the Antalya summit would be short and focused. Turkey held the first meeting of the Energy and Agriculture Ministers during their presidency. Their Energy and Agriculture Ministers had never met before as a part of the G-20. This is the first time this happened. Prior to that though, there has been history of course of the Finance Ministers, Trade Ministers and Employment and Labour Ministers meeting.

Another commendable initiative that Turkish presidency was to add is Women-20. There have been various groups, B-20 which is Business-20, C-20 which is civil society, L-20 which is Labour-20, T-20 which is Think-tank-20 and Youth-20, but to this the Turkish presidency added Women-20 or W-20.

In addition to the G-20 members, the summit will be attended by leaders of Spain as permanent invitee of G-20, Malaysia as ASEAN Chair, Senegal as NEPAD chair, Azerbaijan as special invitee of the presidency, Zimbabwe as the AU Chair, Singapore as the Chair of 3G Global Governance Group as well as the international organizations. These international organizations have been generally part of the G-20 summits always. So, the heads of the international organizations including the United Nations, IMF, World Bank, ILO and OECD will also be there.

The summit will begin with the welcome ceremony at noon on 15th November, 2015 followed by working lunch. The remaining summit programme is divided into two working sessions and two working meals, dinner on 15th November and another working lunch on 16thNovember, 2015. The summit will conclude with a press conference by the Turkish presidency on 16th November, 2015.

Shri Vikas Swarup: Dr. Arvind Panagariya will now take questions.

Question (Narendra Dhawan): Will there be any discussion on the BRICS in Turkey?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: There will be a side meeting and the Prime Minister will participate in it.

Question: Dr. Panagariya, though this is not strictly economics oriented, the Turks have indicated that they want to focus on politics in security as part of the discussions at the G-20, specifically Syria and Iraq. Do you have the Indian position on both these issues?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: Broadly, this is a discussion on terrorism and India does have a position on that. The Prime Minister has spoken on it several times. So, generally we have a shared agenda or a shared view with the Turks on that.

Question (Nayanima Basu, Business Line): What would be India’s position on the BEPS? I understand Prime Minister has been pushing for Base Erosion Profit Shifting at the G-20?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: This is one thing India has very actively pushed for. We continue to urge the other countries to join in because at the end of the day, the effectiveness of BEPS does depend on how many countries join in. So, it is certainly very much a part of our initiative and agenda.

प्रश्‍न (एस.एम. आसिफ, इन दिनों) : मेरा क्‍वेश्‍चन है कि क्‍लाइमेट चेन्‍ज पर कोई बातचीत होगी इस जी-20 में?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: You know the big discussion is coming up in COP-21 starting on November 30thin Paris. But climate change is certainly going to be a part of G-20 discussions and it will also form a part of the ultimate communiqué that the leaders will issue.

Question: Actually this is a personal question. What do you find more interesting and challenging? Teaching at Colombia, working at WTO or IMF- you name it, and takingpangas with Amartya Sen or planning for the future of the one-sixth of the human race?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: I can tell you I keep telling my wife these days that I never had a more challenging job in my life anywhere near it.This job is a true challenge.

Question (Akhilesh Suman, Rajya Sabha TV): Sir, can you tell what are the key issues that the Prime Minister is going to raise in G-20 meeting and do we expect that something common outcome will be coming out of it?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: That is a very open-ended question. So, it could easily take half an hour for me to describe to you. So, the key issues covered are: the first important set of issues has to do with development and climate change. The second set of issues has to do with inclusive growth within which the leaders will discuss global economy, growth strategies, employment and investment strategies. Then the third set of issues relates to enhancing resilience within which the discussion will be on financial regulation, international tax, anti-corruption and IMF reform. Finally, there will be trade and energy.So, it is fairly wide agenda and then there is also one dinner session where terrorism and refugee crisis will be discussed.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: If you ask me for one specific area, then I can tell it.

Question: Global economy is going through many pulls and pushes from various sides. Every country that is developing is wanting investment? What is Prime Minister going to argue before G-20? Is there any regulation investment atmosphere in the world or what Prime Minister thinks about it?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: On the growth, as you mentioned, he would recognize that the growth has been tepid, even though the efforts made under auspices of G-20 have led to some acceleration but still the basic force of what has been going on in the global economy has actually led the IMF to revise the growth rate thrice. The Prime Minister also thinks that the G-20 should create a mechanism through which countries can actually assist each other in terms of if there are certain bottlenecks, let’s say China faces which the United States is in a position to help relieve, then there ought to be some sort of mechanism through the G-20. So, that is one of the things.

Question (Mukesh Kaushik, UNI): Sir, in the last G-20 summit at Sydney, there was lot of focus on information sharing and international banking system to curb black money and flow of illegal money in international market. Is there any progress on that front or would that issue be on the agenda?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: The issue has been an on-going one and progress has been made. Dr. Usha, would you want to add something?

Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Dr. Usha Titus): On the illicit flow of money and the financial action against financing of terrorism, there is already an FATF in place- Financial Action Task Force that is ready with its report and it has a set of recommendations and it has also prepared country-wise compliance with the recommendations of the countries. So, this report will in a sense be presented at the summit.

Question (Puja Mehra, The Hindu): The RBI Governor has been saying for quite some time that countries across the globe should coordinate their monetary policy and G-20 could be one forum to talk about that. Is India going to press for it because India is one of the vulnerable countries?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: At the moment, the coordination of monetary policy is not on the agenda.

Question: During the G-20 summit, will the Prime Minister be having bilateral interactions with other leaders also?

Shri Vikas Swarup: The schedule of bilateral engagement has not yet been finalized. As and when we have that, we let you know.

Question (Manoj Kumar, Reuters News Agency): You have talked about this IMF quota reforms issue that will be discussed. Can you please elaborate what could be expected in the summit, particularly in the communiqué?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: I think we will again make a very strong pitch that the 2010 reform be implemented, particularly the quota reform and in effect the countries that have not ratified which include the United States, most notably, should do so. So, that certainly is going to be very much a part of the discussion and pitch by India.

Question (Vineeta Pandey, The Pioneer): Is India going with some specific proposals? Are we looking for some specific reforms? Secondly, is there anything on reforms on petroleum pricing?Are we looking at something on that?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: There is no specificity at that level of G-20. There is a different proposal that we have not related to this which we have been pushing for and that concerns the transaction cost for remittances. That is part of our development agenda. India is probably one of the largest recipients of remittances from abroad and often the transaction cost of remitting costs close to 10 per cent which is incredibly high and India has been pushing for countries to bring this cost down. Now, latest estimates say it is now down to 7.5 per cent as a result of the efforts made through G-20 by India. It is also now included in the SDGs that by 2030 countries will bring it down to 3 per cent and that push we are still making. So, we will still sort of ask for speeding up on the attainment of this objective by the G-20 countries. Given that 2030 has already done that with 193 countries, G-20 could perhaps do it sooner, maybe 2015 or 2025 or 2020.

Question:…(Inaudible)…

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: On petrol pricing reforms? Actually, that is too detailed. For example, the US has pushed a proposal where it wants countries to adopt a date for the phase-out of the fossil fuel subsidies. Currently, the agreement is that countries would make an effort to do so in the medium run. Where medium run is really undefined, the US was wanting specific date. India does not support that.

Question (Manish Jha, The Times of India): Financial inclusion is one of the important priorities for India. What is going to be our formulation at the G-20? In what way the declaration will reflect the emphasis on financial inclusion?

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: Dr. Usha, do you want to take that question?

Dr. Usha Titus: Definitely the Prime Minster would highlight the fact that we have an ambitious financial inclusion programme and how we are harnessing technology to now link it to social security and national identity system. Financial inclusion by the way is an agenda under the G-20. So, as part of G-20’s initiative and efforts, financial inclusion and awareness have been pushed and definitely India’s achievement would be highlighted in the report of the global partnership for financial inclusion which is the working group or task force that looks into the issues of financial inclusion.

Dr. Arvind Panagariya: Then in particular he will certainly highlight the Jan Dhan, 180 million accounts and MUDRA Bank, which is also effective from the business point of view as it helps finance the micro enterprises.

Question:…(Inaudible)…

Dr. Usha Titus: In the BRICS, as you know last year two significant initiatives were started. So, the progress on these two initiatives- the new development bank and contingent reserve arrangements will definitely be reviewed by the leaders.In addition, the significant components of the agenda before the G-20 will also be looked at or considered by the leaders in terms of understanding positions regarding the global economy to the IMF reforms and other issues.

Shri Vikas Swarup: It is because India is taking over the chairmanship of the BRICS from February next year.

There being no other question, we call this press conference to a close. Thank you all.

(Concluded)

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