What is the G20 Summit? Where is 2022 meeting of world leaders in Bali, when does it start, and what to expect

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden and President of China Xi Jinping are amongst those attending the summit in Bali, Indonesia.

World leaders are meeting in Bali, Indonesia, as they prepare for the kickoff of the annual G20 Summit.

The meeting, which is taking place between 15 and 16 November, brings together leaders from the major economies around the world. It comes this year as the global economy grapples with a looming recession, central bank hikes, and historically high inflation.

Being held at Nusa Dua on Indonesian resort island Bali, the summit marks the 17th since the G20 group was formed in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis. The 2022 instalment is likely to bring with it a fair few tense moments, as it is going ahead whilst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues and relations between the United States and China remain sour.

Vladimir Putin will not be attending, but other world leaders remain reticent as the Russian President is meant to be represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who walked out of a G20 meeting in July when his global counterparts called for an end to the war in Ukraine. However, it was reported on Monday (14 November) that Lavrov was taken to hospital upon his arrival in Bali after suffering a health problem. It is not clear whether he will still represent Russia.

So what exactly can we expect from the G20 Summit? Here’s who’s attending - and what we know about the agenda so far.

World leaders are meeting in Bali, Indonesia, as they prepare for the kickoff of the annual G20 Summit. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld

Which countries will be represented at the summit?

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is making his first appearance at the two-day gathering, and will be hoping to discuss relations with allies such as the US and Australia.

Joe Biden will also be present - reportedly with the aim of reasserting the US’ leadership on the world stage. He is meeting with his Chinese President Xi Jinping amidst increasingly tense ties between the two superpowers.

Putin will be absent from the summit - something the Kremlin blamed on scheduling conflicts - but Russia has sent a representative. However, as mentioned, Lavrov is currently being treated in Sanglah Hospital in Bali’s provincial capital, Denpasar. What will happen to Russia’s meetings remains unclear.

US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali. Credit: Getty Images

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky is attending virtually at the invitation of Indonesia, and is expected to urge leaders to offer a stronger response to the invasion his country is facing. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is attending as an observer.

The biggest name attending from the European Union is France’s Emmanuel Macron. He will be joined by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel will help strengthen the EU’s presence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is representing India, ready to take on the leadership of G20 for the next year. It will be passed over to him by current host Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia. Meanwhile, Canada, Australia and Japan will be represented by Justin Trudeau, Anthony Albanese and Fumio Kishida. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will represent Saudi Arabia, with the United Arab Emirates’ President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also expected.

French President Emmanuel Macron meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. Credit: Getty Images

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has arrived in Bali too, as has Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The only African nation in the G20 - South Africa - is being led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Despite the recent election victory of Luiz Inacio da Silva, Foreign Minister Carols Franca is attending on behalf of Brazil. Mexico is being represented by its top diplomat Marcel Ebrard, while Argentina has sent its President, Alberto Fernandez.

What can be expected?

One of the most anticipated meetings at the summit is that between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, which is taking place at the time of writing. It is the first in-person encounter between the two since the US President took office, and comes amidst rising tensions between the two superpowers, with an increasingly militarised standoff over Taiwan. What happens in the talks could have long-lasting consequences for one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships.

As he met with Xi, Biden said the two leaders have a “responsibility” to show that the countries can “manage our differences”, adding that he hopes they will find areas of cooperation. Meanwhile, Xi said he is prepared for “candid and in-depth exchange of views”, telling China’s state broadcaster CCTV that the current state of relations is not in the interests of either country. The pair also agreed “nuclear war should never be fought” and have condemned Russian atomic threats on Ukraine.

Xi added that they should think about and clarify the direction of development of their own countries - as well as how to get along with other countries. Biden commented: "As the leaders of our two nations, we share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation."

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022. Credit: Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Sunak will of course be tasked with establishing himself on the world stage, but also has some other key priorities for the summit - namely, confronting Russia and influencing the international economic agenda.

He has said he will call on fellow world leaders to “fix the weaknesses” in the global economic system and work together to bring down prices driven up by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, whilst also labelling Russia a “rogue state” and promising to “call out” Putin’s regime during the first encounter between a British PM and a Russian government official since the country’s invasion of Ukraine began in February.

Sunak also has one-on-one meetings scheduled with Biden, and leaders such as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Fumio Kishida of Japan, new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Indonesia is hosting the G20 Summit, with President Joko Widodo due to hold meetings with almost all world leaders attending. Credit: Getty Images

In terms of the general agenda, usually, the summit is centred around the priorities outlined by that year’s host - in this case, Indonesia. Host Joko Widodo, who will have bilateral meetings with almost all the visiting leaders, had reportedly hoped to focus the meeting on global cooperation, economic recovery post Covid, and topics such as energy, food, health and digital.

However, the war in Ukraine - on which Indonesia’s official position is neutral - has unsurprisingly overtaken proceedings. It is the first time G20 leaders are meeting since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, and many of the leaders will be looking to confront Russia’s representatives and address difficulties - meaning the dynamic may be challenging.

PA Media reported that Putin’s decision to shun the event has been seen by British government officials as a sign of weakness - or an indication he is unwilling to face confrontation whilst his military offensive suffers continued setbacks. However, the Kremlin said it is due to scheduling difficulties.