G20 Update: 3 Things You Need to Know Before the G20 Meeting in November
1. A preliminary meeting between business leaders, finance ministers and central bank heavyweights will take place in Cairns in September.
This meeting will be attended by Australian high-ups like Wesfarmers’ Richard Goyder, Telstra’s David Thodey, Commonwealth Bank’s Ian Narev and GE Mining’s Steve Sargent. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting will focus on advocacy, so that their 20 recommendations arediscussed and hopefully agreed upon during the main G20 leaders’ conference that is taking place in November.
Infrastructure is one of the main topics. Several of the recommendations in this industry include setting 5-year investment targets, publishing national pipelines that had been assessed by independent authorities and setting up an infrastructure hub. In finance, ANZ CEO Mike Smith has made completion Base III banking reforms a priority.
2. No decision has been made on Putin’s involvement in the G20 meeting.
Although there is still some time before the November meeting, the interest in Putin’s involvement in the summit this year has taken centre stage, overshadowing some of the issues. Australia has not made an official decision on the issue and has instead decided to consult other members of the G20, with an opportune chance to do so at this week’s NATO meeting in Wales.
Opposition to Putin’s presence at the meeting as only grown since the MH17 tragedy. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made his opinion well known, using strong language against Russia in the aftermath. The Australian opposition Labor Party has also indicated it would support a move to bar Putin from the Brisbane G20 event.
"I understand that the G20 is an international event, (that) it's not a simple matter of just saying yes or no to Putin," Labor leader Bill Shorten said. "I don't want to meet Putin. I've got no time for what he's done."
3. Corruption costs the world’s poorest countries $1 trillion a year, and ONE wants the G20 to do something about it.
Issues like money laundering, bribery, tax evasion and corruption plague the world’s poorest countries, according to a report titled The Trillion Dollar Scandal sponsored by ONE. The Washington DC-based advocacy group is lobbying the host country to use its presidency to address the global corruption epidemic.
The report further estimated that more than 3.5 million deaths could be prevented if the money from corruption was instead funnelled into healthcare and country’s health systems. ONE went on to say that if policies in money laundering, public registers for private companies, company payments for natural resource deals and international exchange of tax information could be put in place, losses could be significantly reduced.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.