Biden’s Quest for US Supremacy at the G20 Summit Amid Absences of Xi Jinping and Putin
September 8, 2023
High Expectations for the G20 Summit
This year’s G20 summit carries a weighty significance, with key absences such as China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. This gathering presents President Biden with an opportunity to “establish new relationships” with many nations within the group, which collectively accounts for over 80% of the global GDP. As such, the summit can serve as a platform for the U.S. to reaffirm its position as the undisputed leader of the international system. Ahead of the meeting, Congress has been approached for authorization to lend $21B to IMF trust funds. As it stands, the U.S. continues to enjoy a privileged status at both the IMF and the World Bank, maintaining its grip on these institutions. To appreciate the potential impact of this year’s summit, one can look back at the previous year’s G20 event.
The Challenge from BRICS
Meanwhile, an alternative to the G7, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), has been actively trying to extend its sphere of influence by “recently inviting more nations to join the group”. These potential newcomers, which include Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and potentially Indonesia, are G20 members. This overlap is likely to create intriguing and unusual dynamics at this weekend’s summit. Moreover, BRICS is making concerted efforts to draw middle- and lower-income nations into its fold, thereby presenting a compelling alternative to the Western economic model that has dominated the world since WWII ended.
President Biden’s G20 Goals
The G20 provides President Biden with a vital stage to boost the financing and influence of the World Bank and other development banks. This move is particularly crucial in counteracting the emerging economies that have sought lending from Beijing. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which uses state-backed money for global infrastructure projects, allows it to gain a foothold and sway over numerous new countries now indebted to it. Concurrently, the U.S. intends to push for financing new infrastructure projects and forging partnerships following the BRICS’ declaration of their ultimate objective of “advancing the agenda of the Global South”.
The United States has more significant fears if the BRICS succeeds in creating a separate economic and financial system. If that happens, the effectiveness of sanctions will lessen, and the dollar will lose its dominance over the majority of international trade transactions. Consequently, the highest diplomatic levels were utilized in 2023 to extend American influence, as exemplified by Janet Yellen’s 10-day trip to Africa and renewed engagement with Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, following his departure from the G20, President Biden is scheduled to visit non-aligned Vietnam, a nation that is rapidly evolving into a manufacturing powerhouse for American goods and a feasible alternative to China.