Mindful of rising protectionist tendencies in the developed bloc, the G-20 tions at the conclusion of their 12th summit meeting have vowed to keep markets open and fight unfair trade practices. Member tions including India reiterated the roles of intertiol trade and investment to keep the engines of global economy running by raising productivity, encouraging innovation and creating jobs. But with US President Dold Trump pushing his ‘America First’ doctrine in Hamburg as well, the focus was more on ‘open and fair’ trade. Clearly, with the Trump administration preferring the bilateral approach to extract concessions from countries like Chi and Mexico enjoying high trade surpluses with the US, multilateral trade is on the backfoot. It remains to be seen how far the 20 major economies cooperate to stave off damaging trade wars, though the G-20 statement did reaffirm commitment to ‘rules-based and WTO-consistent’ intertiol trading. But on combating money laundering, corruption and terror fincing, there was near unimity about the gravity of these threats. The Hamburg Action Plan called for beginning by September next year the automatic exchange of fincial account information under common reporting standards. The G-20 members also agreed on swift exchanges of information between intelligence and law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities in the battle against terror. Resolving that there should be “no safe spaces for terror fincing anywhere in the world”, the G-20 declaration noted that terror fincing hot spots still continue to flourish because of inconsistent and weak implementation of UN and Paris-based Fincial Action Task Force (FATF) standards worldwide. The need therefore is to dismantle sources terrorists use to fince their activities, like abductions, antiques and wildlife smuggling, human trafficking and drugs trade. More specifically, the importance of roping in the private sector has been recognised, considering the rising trend of “low cost attacks by small cells and individuals funded by small amounts of money transferred through a wide range of payment means”.
The private sector is expected to help identify terror fincing, but how it can be induced to do so will depend on tiol governments. It is known that many private businesses back terrorists and provide them funds; many terrorist front organisations raise funds under the noses of security and tax authorities because of lax controls. It will require vast synergy across various levels between Fince ministries, central banks, fincial intelligence and law enforcement agencies and fincial technology firms to devise effective methods and technologies to track small, apparently innocuous transfers of cash. The G-20 bloc has further referred to the threat posed by terror propaganda, the use of internet and social media to radicalize and recruit susceptible people and incite them to violent acts. In this context, its statement has called upon communication service providers and various app administrators to help in appropriate filtering, detection and swift removal of terrorist content. Significantly, the G-20 sees a key role of industry in investing in appropriate technology and human capital towards this end, along with providing “lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information where access is necessary for the protection of tiol security against terrorist threats”. Considering how zealous service providers like Google and Facebook are in protecting their database and communication, it will be a huge development if they can be brought aboard in helping keep tabs on terror activities online. But the major onus will be on tiol governments to draft new legislation compatible with FATF standards and implement these effectively, while coorditing with other governments and intertiol agencies like the UN, World Bank and IMF. Sadly, some countries see the scope for playing politics here too, like Chi repeatedly blocking India’s moves for a UN ban on Jaish chief Masood Azhar, despite faced with a serious jehadi threat in its restive Xinjiang province. There can be no united front against terrorist safe havens and fince unless all countries responsibly come together to deny them ebling environments.