g20-commits-5-trillion-amid-covid-19-scare

According to a release, the G20 countries committed to inject more than $5 trillion into the global economy, and contribute to the World Health Organisation (WHO) led COVID-19 solidarity response fund.

Background:  

  • An Extraordinary Virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit was convened recently to discuss the challenges posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and to forge a global coordinated response. 
  • The extraordinary G20 Summit was a culmination of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting and G20 Sherpas Meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joint statement:

  • The virus respects no borders: The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness and vulnerabilities. 
  • Requires transparent, robust, coordinated efforts: Combating this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity. 
  • Redefine conversations on globalization: The world needs to redefine its conversations on globalisation to include social and humanitarian issues like terrorism, climate change and pandemics along with financial and economic discussions
  • Need of the hour: 
    • To share timely and transparent information; exchange epidemiological and clinical data.
    • Strengthen health system: share materials necessary for research and development and support  the full implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations.

More interactions in future:

The leaders agreed to have more interactions of G-20 Foreign Ministers, health officials and the respective Sherpas before the Riyadh Summit of the G-20 nations in November 2020.

Strong signal given by the leaders:

  • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global growth and financial markets: The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince said that the G-20 must send a strong signal to restore confidence in the global economy by resuming, as soon as possible, the normal flow of goods and services, especially vital medical supplies.
  • More funding for the World Health Organisation: The Prime Minister of India, who had first suggested the video-conference, also called for a bigger mandate and more funding for the World Health Organisation, in order to adapt itself to deal with the new challenges the international community has faced.
  • WHO’s failure: Many countries have been critical of WHO’s failure to alert the world quickly enough of the potential threat from the pandemic. 
  • Non transparent information sharing: The United States, have been particularly critical of China for not having been transparent and shared information about the pandemic, and have even called for the virus to be named the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus,” a move China has opposed strongly.
  • Differences in the approach: Finally, there have been differences in the approach by G-20 countries towards lockdowns in order to control the pandemic spread through social distancing.
    • For instance, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has called state-imposed lockdowns a “crime,” while countries like India have imposed a stringent 21-day lockdown across the country.

The global platforms like G-20 should not waste this precious time and resources in ascribing blame or responsibility for the pandemic. The focus for the G-20 leadership should be on how to handle the global challenge and help the rest of the world deal with it.

 

Image Source: NY Times                            About G-20

  • Formally the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy the G20 meeting is an annual gathering of finance ministers and heads of state representing the members.Chart showing key numbers of the G20 group.
  • Initially attendance at G20 summits was limited    to the finance ministers and central bank governors of members when it was established 17 years ago. 
  • Much of the important business takes place on the sidelines and in informal meetings.

History:

  • After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, it    was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed in discussions on the international financial system, and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999.
  • The first G20 summit occurred in Berlin, in December 1999, and was hosted by the German and Canadian finance ministers.

About Membership and Leadership of the Group of 20 (G-20)

  • Members: The G20 is made up of the EU and 19 countries.
    • Along with the members of the G-7, 12 other nations currently comprise the G-20: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.
    • Special invitees: In addition Spain is invited permanently as is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); two African countries (the chair of the African Union and a representative of the New Partnership for Africa's Development) and at least one country invited by the presidency, usually from its own region. 
    • International organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations, the Financial Stability Board and the World Trade Organization also attend the summits.
  • Chairmanship: The chairmanship of the G-20 leaders' summit rotates among four groups of countries. 
  • The host country of the G20 summit leads the group over the course of one year from December through the following November as the G20 presidency. 
  • Sherpas, who are representatives of leaders of G20 member countries, coordinate on the agenda of a summit. Former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu was India's Sherpa at the Osaka G20 summit.
  • There are two tracks in G-20 - Finance Track and Development Track. 
    • Finance Track is managed by the secretary (economic affairs) as India’s Deputy to G-20 and 
    • The Development Track is coordinated by the Sherpa.

WHO- World Health Organisation

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • It is part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Group.
  • The WHO was established in 1948, which is commemorated as World Health Day.
  • The WHO's broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well being

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