This refers to the power to shape and determine the structure of the global political economy, where the bargaining power of a country and their economic endeavors run in accordance with their capacity compared with other countries. This view of power separates which country is dominant and which is not. There are many things that affect structural power, but in the G20 context, it is a country’s economic capacity.
So, how strong is Indonesia’s structural power in G20? According to data from Trading Economics, even though Indonesia’s GDP in 2020, valued at US$1.58 trillion, was quite high compared to other G20 member countries, it was still below the total G20 average of US$3.4 trillion. In terms of GDP per capita, we are clearly not near the average. With per capita GDP of US$3,757, we are in fact the second poorest country in G20, after India. Meanwhile, the U.S. is still at the top of the chart.
Thus, Zamroni argued that the U.S.’s influence in G20 will remain dominant and its hegemony will hardly be shaken by a coalition of countries whose economic value is not even close to the group’s average. Therefore, developed countries still enjoy greater benefits from global development, where countries such as the U.S., China, Japan and the European Union will still be able to control the interests of developing countries.
Indonesian assumed its G20 chairmanship amid turbulent times and global uncertainty. Irina Minakova in “The USA, Russia and China as a Center of Influence in Global Economy” explains that the current global political and economic dynamics is determined by the relationship between the U.S., Russia and China. They are the ones that shape the global agenda and play a decisive role in the global community.
However, GDP and GDP per capita are not the only sources of strength for Indonesia in the international political economy. In his article “The Role of Indonesia in the G-20: Background, Role and Objectives of Indonesia’s Membership,” Yulius P Hermawan et al stated that Indonesia has two things that give it a strategic advantage, namely, its position as one of the world’s most populous countries and its free and active foreign policy doctrine.
Unfortunately, it can be argued that Indonesia has yet to optimally capitalize on its bargaining power. Its advantages in terms of population size, abundant natural resources, geostrategic position and so on, are only managed as “transactable commodities.” That is why many experts are of the view that Indonesia needs leaders with the ability to carry out outward-looking policies.
Why is this important? According to Yulius et al, Indonesia needs to act as a speaker on behalf of countries not included in G20, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Islamic countries, and developing countries in general. Thus, if Indonesia wants its G20 agendas to be heard by the big countries, Indonesia must also have the ability to formulate the collective interests of the non-G20 countries or blocs mentioned above.
Therefore, I agree with Ahmad Rizky M. Umar’s view in his article “Indonesia has great hopes for the G20, Will it deliver?” which argues that Indonesia should have more rational and realistic expectations about what it can achieve through the G20 and instead be prepared for a role that has far greater influence: its ASEAN chairmanship in 2023.
Indonesia is often touted as ASEAN’s de facto leader, and analysts have pointed out that its “absence of leadership” over the past year has resulted in a weak regional effort to resolve key security issues.
According to Umar, there are far stronger prospect for Indonesia to have a real impact as chair of ASEAN, especially in overcoming ASEAN’s two sticky issues: its position in the context of U.S.-China rivalry in the Indo-Pacific, and the ongoing conflict in Myanmar. Instead of fixating on the illusion of being a major global player in the G20, Indonesia should be more serious in assuming its leadership role and exerting its influence in ASEAN.