Major technological transformations such as artificial intelligence, big data, FinTech, the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 are putting the global economy on a new track. These innovations will bring immense economic opportunities as well as dramatic changes in industries, employment and required skills that will create major challenges for individuals, businesses and governments.
The implications of aging societies have been rising on advanced economy agendas for a long time. The challenges posed by a shrinking labor force, potential declines in productivity and a growing number of retirees which, in turn, threaten the sustainability of pension systems and public finance in general are cases in point. In the recent past, several middle- and low-income countries have also been increasingly exposed to the aging of their populations.
During the Think 20 (T20) hosted by Japan in 2019 to prepare analyses and policy proposals for the G20, a specific working group of think tank experts (Task Force n.2: TF2) devoted its discussions and proposals to the issue of the adequacy of the International Financial Architecture. This has always been a traditional and central theme of the G20. The guiding idea of this Task Force has been to concentrate its analyses and advice on the most urgent and novel aspects and problems that mark the evolution of global financial markets and institutions.
After turning 10 in the Southern Cone and celebrating anniversary in Buenos Aires, G20 started its second decade of life in Osaka. The G20 was born to deal with the economic crisis and succeeded in the challenge. It was successful in handling the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 and containing its aftershocks. However, despite the importance of today’s global challenges, the world does not seem to perceive them with the same sense of urgency.
International trade is facing many risks, according to the WTO trade forecast of September 2018. Among these are rising trade tensions and global protectionism, as well as increased financial volatility as developed economies tighten their monetary policy. Consequently, the WTO downgraded world merchandise trade growth to 3.9% (2018) and 3.7% (2019) respectively.
At the end of their G20 Osaka Summit on June 29, 2019, the most powerful leaders of the world’s most powerful countries will release a communiqué containing many commitments to respond to the biggest challenges of today’s complex world. But their citizens, increasingly skeptical of the work of such governing elites, will doubt that these commitments will make any difference to their daily lives.
The Special Strategic Partnership between Canberra and Tokyo was established as a vehicle through which these countries coordinate their regional security cooperation. According to the annual Foreign and Defence Minister’s meeting Joint Statement it is “founded on common strategic interests and shared values including a commitment to democracy, human rights, free trade and the rules-based international order”.
The pledge to have a “partnership for peace” has fast emerged as a key threshold in India-Japan security relations in recent years. Under the rubric of promoting a “free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” region, a new assurance of engagement seems to be unfolding with frequent bilateral naval exercises, including dialogues and training between the Coast Guards of the two sides.
The “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) is a foreign policy dictum presented by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016 with the aim of offering an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). On the one hand, the FOIP promotes connectivity, free trade and infrastructure development across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. On the other, the policy renews Japan’s efforts to uphold a rule-based order.
Despite for years leaving much to be desired, the strategic relationship between Japan and the EU has recently witnessed a significant boost. With the signing of tandem economic and strategic partnership agreements at the end of 2018, relations between the great civilian powers at each of Eurasia’s poles appear on the cusp of major change.
In the period between 2016 and 2018 the threat North Korea posed to Japanese security increased dramatically. In that period, the regime led by Kim Jong-un carried out three nuclear tests between January 2016 and September 2017, demonstrating that it had become a de facto nuclear power.
Many uncertainties exist surrounding the courses that the world’s two top economic powerhouses, the US and China, could take in the future. These uncertainties are significant, for they have the power to influence and shape both the foreign policy pursued by East Asian countries and universal international norms. Of the two, it is China’s future course, which is perennially difficult to predict.