Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Ex-NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant named India’s new G20 Sherpa

The government has decided to appoint former NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant as India’s Sherpa for the G20 grouping. Kant will replace commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, who offered to shed this role due to his mounting workload.
Given that India is assuming the G20 presidency later this year, a full-time Sherpa who can devote a lot of time for the job is required, a source told FE. This has prompted the government to appoint Kant, whose six-year term at the NITI Aayog ended on June 30, Financial Express reported.
Apart from handling a number of critical ministries (commerce, industry, textiles, food and consumer affairs), Goyal is also the leader of the Rajya Sabha. With the monsoon session of Parliament expected to start later this month, Goyal’s foreign travel is set to get curtailed, which would affect his work as the Sherpa.
Moreover, he has been spearheading free trade agreement negotiations with key economies, including the EU, the UK, Canada, Israel and Australia. In light of these, Goyal, who was appointed the Sherpa in September last year, had offered to step down from this role, said the source.
A Sherpa is typically a personal representative of the leader of a member nation at the G20 and some other groupings. The Sherpa usually engages in planning, negotiation and implementation of tasks through the G20 Summit. They help prepare the agenda, drum up consensus at the highest levels, and take part in a series of pre-summit consultations to negotiate their leaders’ positions.
A 1980-batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre, Kant had served as the secretary of the erstwhile Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (currently DPIIT), where he spearheaded initiatives such as Start-up India. At the NITI Aayog, he was instrumental in firming up a series of production-linked incentive schemes to spur domestic manufacturing and boost growth in the wake of the pandemic.
India’s G20 Sherpas in recent years include former commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu, current RBI governor Shaktikanta Das and former NITI Aayog chairman Arvind Panagariya.
The group of 20 top economies together make up more than 80% of global GDP, 75% of world trade and 60% of population.
India will host the G20 Summit from December 1, 2022 and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2023 for the first time, according to the ministry of external affairs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been leading India’s representation at G20 Summits since 2014. India has been a member of the G20 since the grouping’s inception in 1999.


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