The G-20: What it is and Why it Matters to the United States

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at the World Conference Center Bonn to participate in the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bonn, Germany, on February 16, 2017. This is his first official trip as Secretary of State. [State Department photo]
Secretary Tillerson Arrives at the World Conference Center Bonn to Participate in the G-20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

The G-20: What it is and Why it Matters to the United States

For his first foreign trip as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson will be participating in a G-20 meeting of foreign ministers February 16-17 in Bonn, Germany. As the Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, I am honored to be part of the team accompanying Secretary Tillerson this week. The G-20 has played an instrumental role to ensure global financial stability and promote the kind of strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth that benefits the United States. This week’s meeting is one of many meetings Germany will host this year as President of the G-20, culminating in the Leaders’ Summit July 7 and 8 in Hamburg. President Trump has accepted the invitation to participate in this year’s Summit. 

What is the G-20?

The G-20 was created in 1999 as a forum to bring together finance ministers and central bank governors from some of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies (the United States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, plus the European Union) to improve cooperation on issues affecting the international financial system. The leaders of G-20 members began meeting in 2008, when they gathered to coordinate economic policy in response to the global financial crisis; in 2009, leaders pledged to do whatever was necessary to prevent future financial crises and to restore growth and jobs. Since then, G-20 leaders have met at least annually to coordinate economic policy and develop approaches to some of the world’s most pressing issues. The G-20 has the potential to deliver enormous global impact, as G-20 members countries account for nearly 80 percent of global economic output and three-quarters of global trade, and are home to almost two-thirds of the world’s population.

Why does the G-20 matter to the United States?

The G-20 is a forum for members to discuss global challenges, share best practices, and coordinate policies and actions. That engagement allows the U.S. to address issues that could affect our efforts to increase prosperity and security here at home. As we confront new challenges and threats that would undermine global security and prosperity it is critical we continue to support effective international cooperation that responds to the needs of our citizens. The G-20, with its unique reach and mix of economies, is a key venue for promoting these priorities, expanding our economic diplomacy, and achieving results that benefit the United States. I look forward to productive discussions at the Foreign Ministers’ meeting and to continuing to work with colleagues within the State Department and throughout the government to increase growth and jobs here in the United States.

About the Author: Patricia M. Haslach serves as acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. 

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