Measuring the benefits of multilateralism to Asia: A G20 case study

Adam Triggs
Alex Rouse

The 2010’s were a bruising decade for multilateralism. Reversing this trend will require leadership. The question for this paper is which countries have the greatest incentive to protect, promote and revive multilateralism and multilateral responses to global challenges? The paper is based on the premise that multilateralism provides not only economic benefits, but political benefits, too. The paper seeks to measure both, using the G20 as a case study. The paper uses an intertemporal general equilibrium model of the G20 to measure how large the economic benefits of the G20’s commitments have been and how those benefits have been distributed between countries. For the political benefits of the G20, the paper uses the results from in-depth interviews with the leaders, ministers, governors and senior officials from all G20 countries to explore how the political benefits of the G20 are distributed between countries. The paper finds that Asian countries disproportionately benefit from the G20’s commitments, both economically and politically. The paper argues that Asian G20 countries therefore have a disproportionately large incentive to show leadership in protecting and promoting the G20 and the multilateral system. The paper outlines areas where this is already happening and areas where more needs to be done.