Saudi Arabia will be the first country in the Arab world to host the G20 summit.
Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, the Kingdom is seeking to reform its economy and society. Freeing the Kingdom from oil dependency will open new opportunities for social reform, which will contribute to improving the global image of Saudi Arabia.
While it is an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to present Vision 2030, the G20 forum will also be a door-opener for international economies to consider investment in Saudi Arabia, as well as to work on resolving some of the global issues on the G20 agenda.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was at the center of this year’s G20 summit in Osaka, which can be seen as the result of his successful diplomacy and his efforts to reform the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia can use the upcoming G20 summit for public diplomacy to enhance the people-to-people interaction between the Kingdom and G20 nations. The G7 is another group for intergovernmental economic cooperation. Seven members of G20 countries form the G7, which creates a point of convergence for Saudi Arabia to use economic diplomacy as a tool to become an eighth member of G7, which will be then declared as the G8. Participating in the G7 platform will enhance Saudi economic interdependence with the world.
Discussing the trade war and protectionist policies on the G20 stage:
Another issue to be addressed at the G20 forum is the trade war between the US and China. China and America are the biggest importers of Saudi Arabia’s oil and petroleum products, and the Kingdom is on good terms with both countries and in trade relations with them.
Some have labeled the trade struggle as a “new Cold War” between the global East and global West. Saudi Arabia, with some other oil-producing countries, has serious concerns about a trade war as both stakeholders of the trade war are the biggest markets of Saudi oil exports. Currency war, another aspect of the trade war, can affect crude oil prices in the global market.
Trade war, along with the recent power struggle in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf, can also disturb the global oil trade. After the discovery of shale oil technology in the US, the US will be less dependent on Saudi Arabia for its oil needs in the future. However, South Asia as a whole and specifically China is the next most significant market for Saudi oil products. So it is an essential opportunity for Saudi Arabia to try to create a point of convergence for both America and China to end or at least to put the trade war into a bracket.
The G20 summit of 2020 will be a golden chance to resolve this issue. As per the commitment of global leaders at the closing ceremony of the G20 2019 forum, free, fair and non-discriminatory trade should be the goal that leads to a progressive global economy. Playing a decisive role to end this trade war will improve the global outlook and perception of Saudi Arabia, which has been projected as having a hard image.
Dr. Yahya Al-Zahrani is an expert on international affairs and security. He has an extensive academic and professional background, combining global experience in strategy and international relations.