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A conversation with Argentina’s G20 Sherpa

Virpratap Vikram Singh (GH): Ambassador Villagra Delgado, thank you for joining us. Argentina holds the G20 presidency this year. Could you help us understand how your country shaped the agenda for the G20?

Pedro Villagra Delgado: First of all, we took into account the legacy of all the previous G20 presidencies because the show didn’t start with us. We have been working with the G20 since its inception in 1999, and after it became a summit-level exercise in 2008. So, of course, we have to continue all the work that has been done in the previous presidencies.

Argentina’s priorities at the G20 will be first, the future of work, including education, to give people the skills necessary for the changes taking place in the labour market, and (to prepare for) digitalisation. The three go together. You just listened to the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology of Estonia, Urve Palo, speak about the importance of digitalisation in that country’s economy. That is true everywhere. The other priorities are investment in infrastructure for development and the future of food security.

Food security is not just about the provision of abundant, healthy and nutritious food, but also the inclusion of food production in the global value chain. I think these are the three major priorities, with a perspective on gender to be included in every single item of the agenda, including the finance track and one on anti-corruption as well.

Of course, we have other things as well that we are going to have to tackle during the Argentine presidency as previous presidencies have. These include climate change, the question of trade in services, financial flows, and the importance of regulation in financial markets. We have to keep these in mind since the core business of the G20 is stability and governance of finance and micro economics.

GH: The agenda items are common concerns for both India and Argentina. Where do you see the main areas of cooperation and collaboration within the G20 framework?

Pedro Villagra Delgado: I think there is room for collaboration between India, Argentina, all other developing countries and the developed members of the G20 in all the areas that I mentioned. We have to close the inequality gap that is increasing around the world, not just in the developing countries, but also in the developed ones.

An important aspect of this is that we have to make sure that the Sustainable Development Goals—the 2030 agenda for development—are also implemented, that we get financing and have everybody come together to make sure people live decent lives and have good jobs in the future, because that is also going to contribute to stability and governance, not just in the financial and macroeconomic sectors, but more broadly as well.

GH: India is set to take on the G20 presidency in 2021, but right now, what can India do to support this year’s G20 agenda?

Pedro Villagra Delgado: We all have to work together. That’s what I’m here for.

One of the first things I did since taking up the presidency of the G20 was to start maintaining contact with the developing countries within the G20. I have contact with the Latin American countries obviously, as you can imagine. But I have gone to Africa because it is important not just for the members of the G20 to listen to them, but also for the non-members to know things that are relevant to them since whatever  the G20 decides, or comes to a consensus on regarding implementation, will probably affect the  countries that are not sitting around the table. So I think it is only fair to have outreach to them.

Then I went to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and now, India. We want to have the vision from the South, as Argentine president Macri has said. We have to have a G20 that is people-centred also, taking into account poverty reduction–and its elimination, if possible. India’s help in this and cooperation between Argentina and India is going to be very important, for us. And with all the contacts that I have made here during my visit to Delhi and Mumbai, I think we are both on the right track.

GH: We look forward to hearing more about Argentina’s G20 presidency, and to the summit in Buenos Aires in December.

Pedro Villagra Delgado: Thank you, and thank you very much to Gateway House. It’s a great think tank and you’re doing a great job here.

This is a transcript of a video interview conducted with Ambassador Villagra Delgado on 12 March 2018 and has been edited for this format.

Ambassador Pedro Villagra Delgado is the Argentinean G20 Sherpa. He attended the official Think20 Mumbai meeting on 12 March and was a panelist during the 2018 Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue on 12-13 March.

Virpratap Vikram Singh is the Digital Media & Content Manager at Gateway House.

This interview was exclusively conducted for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read more exclusive content here.

For permission to republish, please contact outreach@gatewayhouse.in.

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