Former NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has been picked as India’s new Sherpa for the G-20, replacing Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs, who was appointed as the G-20 Sherpa in September last year.
Kant’s appointment comes ahead of India assuming the G-20 presidency later this year. India will hold the presidency from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023, and the need for a full-time Sherpa for this duration is being cited as one of the reasons for the change.
With the G-20 presidency coming to India, the Sherpa is expected to “devote a lot of time to numerous meetings that will be held in different parts of the country”, said a source.
Besides Goyal, previous Sherpas for the G-20 include Suresh Prabhu, Shaktikanta Das and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
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Kant completed his extended term at the NITI Aayog last month, after heading the government think tank for about six years. A retired 1980-batch IAS officer (Kerala cadre), Kant took over as the NITI Aayog CEO in 2016 — he last got an extension, by a year, in June 2021. Kant was also the chairman of Empowered Group-3, one of the 11 groups set up by the Centre to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The G-20 brings together the world’s developed and developing economies, accounting for 85 per cent of the global GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population, making it an influential forum for international economic cooperation. As the G-20 presidency, India will set the agenda for the year, identify the themes and focus areas, conduct discussions and work out outcome documents. The G-20 Leaders’ Summit will be held in India for the first time in 2023.
The G-20 process is basically divided into the Sherpa track and the Finance track. Under the Sherpa track, about 100 official meetings are expected to be organised in the areas of employment, health, digital economy, trade, investment and industry, environment and climate, energy, anti-corruption, agriculture, tourism, culture, socio-economic development, education, and women empowerment.
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Under the Finance track, about 40 meetings are expected to be organised including in the areas of international financial architecture, financial inclusion and sustainable finance, financing for infrastructure, climate finance and tax matters.