Generally speaking, the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Argentina received positive reviews.
Not only from the Macri administration, but also from the international community. The fact that the leaders were able to produce a communiqué, regardless of how bland it was, represented a victory for multilateralism, especially taking into account the poor results achieved in the last international forums of the kind: last year’s G20 Summit in Hamburg, the G7 in Canada, and the APEC summit.
In the G7, Donald Trump rejected the communiqué issued by his counterparts, and in the APEC summit, they were unable to produce one.
However, after getting past the general overview and one analyzes the document’s wording in detail, the number of satisfaction drops. And that’s how those working for member states, trying to enforce their anti-corruption commitments, really feel.
Speaking to The Bubble, María Emilia Berazategui, this year’s C20 Anti-Corruption Sherpa, and Andrés Knobel, researched at the Tax Justice Network, highlighted their discontent.
“On Saturday, the G20 leaders had an opportunity to show the world their commitment with the fight against corruption and, once again, the G20 communiqué shows that corruption remains an afterthought in G20 leaders’ decisions and actions,” Berazategui indicated.
In previous statements to The Bubble, the Sherpa and Transparency International official had already criticized the leaders for not enforcing the several commitments made throughout the last years. In fact, during G20, signs compelling the leaders to do exactly this flooded the streets of Buenos Aires, especially along the routes between the hotels where the countries’ delegations were staying, and the venue where the summit took place.
Moreover, Berazategui highlighted that, in the pertinent paragraph, the leaders indicate they agree on the new action plan 2019-2021 designed throughout this year, but said plan is nowhere to be found, neither in the communiqué’s annexes or other related documents.
In his press conference held after the publishing of the communiqué, President Mauricio Macri made one reference to corruption, but tied it to infrastructure works. It was a not-so-veiled reference to the many accusations weighing over the heads of former Kirchnerite officials, whose – alleged – preferred method of embezzlement consisted on receiving kickbacks from overinflated public works contracts.
On his end, researcher at the Tax Justice Network Andrés Knobel indicated that “the declaration hardly says anything new about tax transparency, other than omit any reference to beneficial ownership transparency.” “Automatic exchange of information and the multilateral tax convention are mentioned in the declaration, but not the fact that the US isn’t participating in either of them. This prevents many developing countries from obtaining relevant information from the US,” he added.
With regards to Argentina in particular, Knobel wrote in a column for The Bubble that, “against the advances in transparency seen in the European Union, Latin America and even some tax havens, Argentina hasn’t even maintained the status quo, but made things worse.”
Knobel was making reference to the fact that “Argentina amended its existing regulation, eliminating most of the transparency demands for foreign companies.”
The fact that this global forum, established to promote international cooperation hasn’t gone extinct, especially at a time when protectionist and nationalistic movements are gaining ground on Western democracies, is positive.
But civil societies are certain that “not moving backwards” is far from meaning progress.