The world’s most powerful leaders came together for the first time amid the worst economic crisis, the meeting released a closing statement on Sunday that served as perhaps the Trump administration’s final reminder of the wide gulf between the United States and its allies on handling global threats like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. Saudi Arabia, which assumed the G20 presidency this year, is the host of the virtual summit that is bringing together leaders from the world’s richest and most developed economies, such as the US, China, India, Turkey, France, the UK and Brazil, among others. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among those participating in the closed-door virtual sessions that are taking place Saturday and Sunday.
In meeting Overall, the communiqué 1st offered little in terms of any breakthrough announcements beyond general appeals for more global cooperation and “affordable and equitable access” to therapeutics and vaccines. The lack of more significant initiatives underscored how difficult it is for the G20 to carry out an agenda when the United States is indifferent, Mr. Trump skipped part of the summit to play golf or even hostile to many of its positions, even during a pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people globally.
The statement came the same day as another reminder of Mr. Trump’s rejection of international agreements: The United States formally withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty, negotiated three decades ago to allow nations to fly over one another’s territory with elaborate sensor equipment to assure that they are not preparing for military action. American officials had long complained that Russia was violating the accord, and Mr. Trump had announced the action in May, starting a six-month clock on the withdrawal. Addressing the virtual G20 Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Mr. Xi said China will always be a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. “On the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, China stands ready to pursue peaceful coexistence and common development with all countries. “We may bridge differences through dialogue, resolve disputes through negotiation, and make a joint effort for world peace and development,” Mr. Xi said in remarks in the backdrop of the over six-month-long military standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh.
Calling on the international community to jointly fight the COVID-19, President Xi said the G20 members should help build a global firewall against the disease. “We must first put the disease under control at home and, on that basis, strengthen exchanges and cooperation to help countries in need,” he said. Over 57,775,000 people have been hit by the deadly virus while more than 1,376,000 people have died since the pandemic emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan last year. Mr. Xi noted that several G20 members have made progress in vaccine R&D and production.
“We should speed up the action and support the World Health Organisation in mobilising and consolidating resources and distributing vaccines fairly and efficiently. China actively supports and participates in international cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines,” he said. Also, he said China has joined the COVAX facility and stand ready to step up cooperation with other countries on the R&D, production and distribution of vaccines.“We will honour our commitment of giving assistance and support to other developing countries, and work to make vaccines a global public good accessible and affordable to people around the world,” he said. He said the G20 grouping should ensure the smooth functioning of the global economy. “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains. We need to reduce tariffs and barriers, and explore the liberalisation of trade of key medical supplies.” Mr. Xi said China has fully implemented G20s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and put off debt repayment totalling over $1.3 billion.
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, warned the G-20 that uncoordinated crisis spending would cost two-thirds more than a joint approach. And she urged its members to prepare an ambitious roster of synchronized infrastructure investments to help complete the recovery, once the pandemic is tamed.
Business leaders and prominent Democrats, meanwhile, want President-elect Joe Biden to call together world leaders early in his administration to craft a joint response to the pandemic’s intertwined health and economic dangers. Failure to coordinate global distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, some say, could hobble any global rebound as richer nations power ahead of poorer ones. The United States this year blocked the creation of $1 trillion in new crisis financing capacity for the IMF, fearing that some of the money would flow to countries such as China or Iran. And a World Bank initiative to suspend debt service payments for the poorest countries initially failed to include China or private-sector lenders. So far, the Debt Service Suspension Initiative has saved 43 poor nations $5 billion, which Summers has derided as using a “squirt gun” to extinguish a raging fire.
The Prime Minister said “Transparency in our processes helps in inspiring our societies to fight crisis collectively and with confidence. Spirit of trusteeship towards planet Earth will inspire us for a healthy and holistic lifestyle.” An official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said Modi called for a “new global index for the post-Corona world that comprises four key elements creation of a vast talent pool; ensuring that technology reaches all segments of the society; transparency in systems of governance, and dealing with Mother Earth with a spirit of trusteeship”. Based on this, the G20 can lay the foundation of a new world, the statement said.
According to the MEA, the Prime Minister said that while the emphasis over the past few decades has been on capital and finance, the time has come to focus on multi-skilling and re-skilling to create a vast human talent pool. “This would not only enhance the dignity of citizens but would make our citizens more resilient to face crises. He also said that any assessment of new technology should be based on its impact on ease of living and quality of life,” the statement said.
Lastly, Modi said that dealing with the environment and nature as trustees rather than owners would inspire us towards a holistic and healthy lifestyle, a principle whose benchmark could be a per capita carbon footprint. ‘Work from Anywhere’ is a new normal in the post-Covid world, the PM said and suggested that as a follow-up action, a G20 virtual secretariat be created as a repository of documentation.
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