Volume 44, Number 175,
October-December 2013
The G20 in Los Cabos:
A Lost Opportunity for Much-Needed Change
Carlos Rozo and Aleida Azamar *
Date received: March 14, 2012. Date accepted: May 21, 2013

The Group of Twenty (G20) gathered for a summit in 2008 to address the global crisis resulting from the collapse of the mortgage sector in the United States. The agenda agreed upon at that time was effective and facilitated a series of commitments that were taken up later during the London (2009) and Toronto (2010) summits to design and implement public policy that would prevent the global economy from sinking into a deep depression. Preventing the world from falling off a cliff was an urgent matter, and one that was achieved. However, the effectiveness of the G20 to rebuild the economic and social fabric has been less successful and more questioned on the global scale (Truman, 2012; Navarrete, 2012; Kemal, 2012; Fitoussi and Stiglitz, 2011).

This may be due to the fact that the G20 summits have not been an example of unity among world leaders. There have been serious disagreements as to the importance of short-term and situation-based actions versus structural and long-term moves, further complicated by ideological differences and the defense of national interests.

In this global scenario, Mexico organized the seventh G20 summit in Los Cabos, Baja California. From the outset, the most ideal circumstances were not in place. The global economy was in a fragile state and emerging and industrial countries were jockeying to obtain greater weight in global governance.1 Mexican authorities had the chance to take a leadership position in the search for a new equilibrium on the international stage to drive an agenda that would seek to balance the new economic strength of developing economies with the still-reduced capacity of their governments to play a role in the governance of international institutions. Strengthening the new economic role of developing countries in political terms may be of greater importance to global stability than contributing to the governance of multilateral institutions that continue to favor the status quo so beneficial to wealthy nations. However, Mexico’s proposed agenda emphasized former President Calderón’s aim to gain a “strategic role” in providing a solution to the crisis in industrial nations. It would seem that resolving Europe’s fiscal conflict was more important than addressing the disastrous effects of the crisis caused by industrial countries on less developed nations.

It would have been more sensible to ask: How can less developed countries grow in an environment of economic indebtedness and slowdown in industrial nations? How are the problems that are causing the debt and fiscal crisis in the Eurozone and in the United States imputable to the costs that developing countries have had to and still have to pay? These questions are pertinent at a time when global geopolitics must undergo a transformation to be on par with the changes occurring in the global economy, as will be demonstrated later on.

The purpose of this work is to examine the Los Cabos summit from the perspective of transformation and confrontation to find a new normal, more suited to achieving equitable economic and social development between the North and South. This work begins by placing the G20 in the context of global economic tensions and changes and examines how global geopolitics is lagging, to later describe the work program that Mexico proposed and the action plan agreed upon at the summit regarding financial stability, employment, free trade and sufficient food. Finally, this work provides some conclusions.

* Researchers at the Autonomous Metropolitan University-Xochimilco, Mexico. E-mails: rozo@correo.xoc.uam.mx; gioconda15@gmail.com, respectively.

1 An exemplary case of this confrontation was an initiative driven by Western powers to prevent the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development from continuing its research into global macroeconomics and the dangers of increasing global financial fragility through the interaction of debt coefficients and gdp and external deficits, maintaining various of the principles of more developed economies. In fact, in the ministerial meeting in 2012 in Doha, Qatar to determine the quadrennial mandate which defines the body’s work program, Western countries, in a “fully concerted effort,” as Wade (2012) writes, sought to prevent the group from being authorized to work on the “profound roots” of the contemporary crisis so that they would exclusively focus on examining the “effects of the crisis on development.” They tried to avoid analytical positions that would place the responsibility for the global disaster on world powers. Wade provides a very precise account of how this confrontation between developed and developing countries played out, including Mexico’s responsibility, as chair of the G20, to weaken the position of developing countries that defended unctad.

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Published in Mexico, 2012-2018 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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