The leaders of the 20 largest economies in the world (the Group of Twenty) will discuss today, Saturday, over two days, how to deal with the unprecedented “Covid-19” pandemic that caused a global recession, in addition to how to manage its recovery once the emerging Corona virus is under control.
Topping the summit agenda is the procurement and global distribution of vaccines and medicines and testing in low-income countries that cannot afford these expenses alone.
On Saturday, the European Union will urge the G20 to invest $ 4.5 billion to help in this regard.
“The main topic will be intensifying global cooperation to deal with the pandemic,” said a senior G20 official who is participating in preparations for the Saudi-led summit that is being held online due to the pandemic.
2 billion doses
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said – Saturday – that the G20 platform will distribute 2 billion doses of the Corona vaccine to the world.
During her participation in an accompanying event on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit today, on strengthening pandemic preparedness, Merkel added that the global response to combating Corona is necessary.
The work of the summit of the 15th session of the G20 at the level of leaders, chaired by Saudi Arabia, was launched on Saturday, as the current session meetings are held virtually, due to the repercussions of the global outbreak of the Corona virus.
For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron said – today – that a vaccine against the Corona virus will be available before the end of the year.
Macron added that we must unify efforts to confront the spread of Corona, and we will ensure that the vaccine reaches all countries, especially the poor ones.
He stated that the G20 platform had allocated funds to purchase doses of the Corona vaccine, and called on the group to increase investment in health systems.
As for Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said that his country is ready to strengthen global cooperation to produce a vaccine for “Covid-19”, and called for greater international coordination in the field of policies that facilitate the movement of people.
In his opening remarks to the leaders of the G20, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz stressed the need for equitable access to means to fight “Covid-19”, including vaccines.
“We must work to create conditions that allow access to them in a fair and affordable way to provide them to all peoples. At the same time, we must prepare better for future epidemics,” he told the group via video call.
The European Union will propose concluding a pandemic treaty and others in preparation for the future.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, will address the G20 on Sunday, saying, “The conclusion of an international treaty will help us to deal faster and more harmoniously.”
In a G20 summit report, the International Monetary Fund said that the global economy witnessed a recovery from the crisis earlier this year, but momentum is ebbing in countries experiencing high infection rates, and the recovery is proceeding at an uneven pace and the pandemic is likely to have a profound impact.
World Bank President David Malpass warned G20 leaders that failure to reduce debt burdens on some countries could lead to an increase in poverty and the recurrence of defaults that occurred in a chaotic fashion in the 1980s.
Malpass said he was happy with the progress made on the issues of transparency and debt relief, but demanded more.
“Debt challenges have become more frequent, as in Chad, Angola, Ethiopia and Zambia, where the outlook for poverty levels remains bleak in the absence of permanent debt relief,” he added, in a speech to G20 leaders.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres – Friday – said that poor and indebted countries in the developing world are most at risk because they are “on the brink of financial collapse, rising poverty and hunger and facing untold suffering.”
To address this, the G20 will approve a plan to extend the delay in debt service payments to developing countries for a period of 6 months until mid-2021 with the possibility of another extension, according to a draft statement of the group seen by Reuters.
European members of the G20 are likely to push for more.
Green trade and investment
European countries in the G20 will also seek new momentum to reform the stalled World Trade Organization, hoping to seize an opportunity from the impending change of the US administration.
“We must continue to support the global economy, and reopen our economies and the borders of our countries to facilitate the movement of trade and individuals,” the Saudi king said.
US President Donald Trump, whose term is nearing completion, has preferred bilateral trade deals to working through international bodies.
The change of US leadership also raises hopes for more concerted efforts at the G20 level to combat climate change.
Following in the footsteps of the European Union, half of the G20 members – including Japan, China, South Korea and South Africa – are already planning to become climate neutral, or at least carbon neutral, by 2050 or soon after.
During Trump’s presidency, the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, but President-elect Joe Biden will likely reverse that decision.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “We expect, of course, a new momentum from the new US administration on this issue thanks to the announcement by the President-elect (Biden) that the United States will once again join the Paris Agreement.
To help finance the fight against climate change, the European Union will urge the G20 to agree on common global standards on what constitutes an investment in the environment, or what is known as “green” investment.
This would help attract the huge private investment needed because many investment funds are keen to invest in environmentally sustainable projects but there is no agreed method for selecting them, and the European Union is already working on such criteria with a view to implementing them by 2022.
Meanwhile, Saudi Investment Minister Khaled Al-Falih confirmed – today, Saturday – that the contraction of the global economy due to the Corona pandemic this year will be less than expected, as a result of the steps taken by the G20 countries in this regard.
Al-Falih said – during a media briefing as part of the G20 summit – that the current summit is exceptional in light of the Corona pandemic, and the group is looking to save the world from it.
Last October, the International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for the global economic contraction this year to 4.4%, after it had expected it to shrink by 4.9% last June.
Member states have pumped $ 11 trillion into the global economy since last March 26, $ 21 billion to support health systems and search for a vaccine for the Coronavirus, and $ 14 billion to reduce the debt burden of least developed countries.
The G-20 bloc or what is known for short (G20) consists of the countries of Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, France, Germany, India, Indonesia and Italy.
The bloc also consists of Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, then the European Union, supplementing the G20, the IMF and the World Bank.
The group’s data show that the bloc countries account for 80% of the global gross product, and their activities constitute about 75% of the world’s trade, and their population represents two-thirds of the global population.