World attention turns to Hamburg when the G20 begins on July 7-8, 2017 and pressing global issues top the agenda. Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, has stressed the necessity of the G20 summit in view of many international crises. Talks about war, persecution of minorities, climate change and free trade must continue now. The summit of 19 countries and heads of state at the G20 in Hamburg’s convention centre includes seven representatives of guest nations, leading EU figures and various international organisations.
Hamburg News talked to the city’s 33 HamburgAmbassadors, who live in 21 countries about possible signals from the summit and the lasting images. How do cities such as Paris, London, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Cape Town and Buenos Aires view the upcoming summit?
Hamburg could send signal to world
“Hamburg is one of the world’s few cities whose history and prosperity is so closely linked to globalisation. Therefore, it would befit our city and especially in view of its history to be credible with a partial result such as a ‘Hamburg Declaration on the Benefits of an Open and Multilateral World Economy,’” according to Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Wolfgang Michalski, the Paris-based HamburgAmbassador. “Such a declaration would link our city’s name with the fight against protectionism for many years,” he added. Michalski is author of “Capitalising on Change in a Globalising World; A View from Hamburg”.
“A clear signal would be sensible now,” said Dieter Elsner, HamburgAmbassador in Atlanta, USA. A wide-ranging, information campaign about the economic benefits of free trade and especially the catastrophic impact of protectionism and isolationism is needed now. “Apart from tree trade per se, at stake is the commitment to multinational trade agreements as opposed to bilateral agreements, which are difficult to implement in Europe because of the EU’s structure. Every signal helps,” stressed Bodo Liesenfeld, the HamburgAmbassador in Boston.
Britain – “summit is hugely important in wake of election”
Over 10,000 delegates including some 5,000 journalists are expected at the summit. Issues such as the reform of the French labour market means Brexit is not uppermost on the agenda. Many countries are prioritising domestic issues at present. “In the U.S., the G20 summit is being overshadowed by other well-known issues,” Liesenfeld added. However, the “America first” theme is difficult to convey to the G20 nations.
Brexit was not a dominant issue in South African media, according to a survey in June. “Domestic issues such as fighting corruption and the debate about the incumbent ANC party’s ability to govern are dominating the agenda,” according to Wolfgang Jakob, the HamburgAmbassador in Cape Town. “South Africa is still in the early stages of its free, democratic development. The country will certainly try to attract investors at the summit. I also expect talks between (Brazil, Russia, India and China) BRIC nations on the margins of the summit.“
Focus turns to Hamburg with arrival of Air Force One
“The talk is of the 'G20 in Germany’, if you find anything in print about it,” said Sven Oehme, the New York-based HamburgAmbassador. “The focus will only turn to Hamburg when Air Force One lands. The perception depends on the procedure of the G20 summit.”
That differs to the interest in Britain: “The conservative party’s election losses has rendered the summit enormously important, as Brexit means issues such as national security, world trade, border security, national prosperity and the relationship to partners in the EU are hugely important and have prompted even greater interest,” said Christoph Lampert, the London-based HamburgAmbassador. “The summit is of course in the spotlight and Hamburg is also being highlighted. The press have been reporting about the city in the run-up to the conference,” he added. Lampert is a consultant to an investment company in London.
Argentina is also awaiting the summit eagerly. “The G20 summit is a big issue in Argentina because the country takes over the G20 presidency after Germany and will be hosting the G20 summit in 2018. Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Buenos Aires in early June. There is complete agreement with Mauricio Macri’s government on all the existing issues,” said Matthias Kleinhempel, HamburgAmbassador in Buenos Aires.
Global integration and open world trade, climate protection and the battle against terrorism are the Argentine delegation’s priorities,” Kleinhempel added. “Issues such as geopolitical balance, security policies, fighting terrorism, securing high, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, maintaining an open, multilateral world economy and the development of Africa are particularly important to France,” said Michalski.
“The U.S. delegation will proceed strictly along the lines of Trump’s policies. They will prioritise issues that refer to ‘America first’ – fighting terrorism, reducing the influx of refugees headed to the U.S. and perhaps call for a review of the (Paris) Climate Change Agreement and demand the start of talks on individual trade agreements including renegotiating NAFTA,” said Elsner.
“The G20 is very important in England in view of the political situation. How will May’s minority government affect others? Can England position itself as a strong independent country? The media interest and that of the people is greater than in earlier summits,” Lampert said. “Will the EU moving farther and farther away from pre-Brexit stances during the summit? What role can England play in the world now? Will England follow Europe in terms of environmental, defence and world trade issues or adopt its own position? All these issues will certainly play a role at the summit.“
G20 in city centre – Hamburg seizing opportunity
“Hamburg will get media attention as host,” Lampert added. “It is a unique opportunity for the city to present itself as a cosmopolitan, trade-friendly city – a real alternative in many aspects to London, that promotes itself with similar attributes, but which are becoming increasingly difficulty to convey following the Brexit vote.“
“Even if the direction of the G20 meeting presently is linked to special, security policies and logistical challenges, I welcome the fact that Hamburg is not shying away from them,” said Michalski.
By: Karolin Köcher