G20 leaders have committed to do “whatever it takes” to minimize the social and economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic, in a largely unspecific and uncontroversial joint communique issued after a video conference call.
In a two-hour meeting the leaders of the world’s most powerful economies agreed to assess gaps in pandemic preparedness and increase funding for research and development in vaccines and medicines, an area in which the G20 has shown an interest in the past.
Chaired by Saudi King Salman, who is presiding over the G20 this year, the meeting’s purpose was to tackle the pandemic and its economic implications as people lose their incomes amid closures, curfews and lockdowns.
In opening remarks, the Saudi king said, “This human crisis requires a global response. The world counts on us to come together and cooperate in order to face this challenge.”
Participating leaders included President Donald Trump, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, India’s Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau interacting in pixels with the Saudi monarch.
A call by the IMF for a doubling of its funding to $2tn was not addressed specifically in the communique. The statement said G20 members had undertaken a $5tn stimulus through targeted fiscal policy and insurance schemes, and members would look to increase funding to multilateral bodies as required. Central bank governors were urged to draw up an action plan in conjunction with finance ministers.
G20 leaders, whose countries account for 80% of the world’s GDP, have been criticized for failing to produce a quick response to the pandemic of the quality of that in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.
The G20 communique said members were united in their response and they would use all available policy tools to minimize the economic and social damage, restore global growth, maintain market stability and strengthen resilience.
In an assertion of the relevance of multilateralism, the communique said the pandemic was “a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness and vulnerabilities”, and the virus “respects no borders”.
Statement includes pledge to ensure flow of vital medical supplies and other goods across borders and to resolve supply chain disruptions