No Action Plan yet, but G20 leaders to pump in $ trillion in world economy to minimise COVID-19 impact

Last Updated 26 March 2020, 17:42 IST

The G20 leaders on Thursday committed to inject over $ 5 trillion into the global economy to minimize the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The leaders of the 19 nations and the European Union also agreed to quickly make up for the shortfall in the fund available to the World Health Organization (WHO) to deal with the pandemic. They, however, could not reach a consensus on a draft G20 Action Plan to respond to the Covid-19 crisis and postponed its adoption.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the other G20 leaders, who stressed on early adoption of a concrete action plan.

The virtual summit on Thursday ended with the leaders asking the Finance Ministers and the Governors of the Central Banks of the G20 nations to continue negotiation on the proposed Action Plan and to “work closely with international organizations to swiftly deliver the appropriate international financial assistance” to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

“We are currently undertaking immediate and vigorous measures to support our economies; protect workers, businesses – especially micro, small and medium-sized

Enterprises – and the sectors most affected and shield the vulnerable through adequate social protection,” the G20 leaders said in the joint statement issued after an extraordinary virtual summit. “We are injecting over $ 5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”

The summit was convened by the G20’s current president and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to work out a coordinated global response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications.

Modi, King Salman, President Donald Trump of the United States and President Xi Jinping of China joined the leaders of 15 other nations and the European Union in the virtual summit.

The leaders came together even as China and the United States engaged in a blame-game over the pandemic.

The Covid-19 virus was previously unknown before the outbreak began at Wuhan in China in December 2019. The virus has now caused a pandemic around the world, infecting over 400,000 people around the world and killing over 18000 people.

Over 100,000 people have recovered from the disease though.

The leaders of the 19 major economies and the European Union agreed to “quickly work together and with stakeholders” to close the financing gap in the WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. They further committed to provide immediate resources to the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) and the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, voluntarily. They called upon all countries, international organizations, the private sector, philanthropies, and individuals to contribute to these efforts.

They also agreed to further strengthen the WHO’s mandate in coordinating the international fight against the pandemic, including the protection of front-line health workers, delivery of medical supplies, especially diagnostic tools, treatments, medicines, and vaccines.

Modi, who earlier nudged Saudi Arabia’s King to convene the virtual summit, noted the alarming social and economic cost of the pandemic.

He added that 90% of the Covid-19 cases and 88% of deaths had been reported in the G20 countries, even as they share 80% of world’s Gross Domestic Product and 60% of the world population. He called on the G20 to come out with a concrete action plan to fight the global pandemic.

Prime Minister underscored the need to put human beings at the centre of the G20’s vision of global prosperity and cooperation, freely and openly share the benefits of medical research and development, develop adaptive, responsive and humane health care systems, promote new crisis management protocols and procedures for an interconnected global village, strengthen and reform intergovernmental organizations like WHO and work together to reduce economic hardships resulting from Covid-19 particularly for the economically weak.

He called on the G20 leaders to help usher in a new globalization, for the collective well-being of humankind and have multilateral forums focus on promoting the shared interests of humanity, according to a press-release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.

The G20 leaders were joined by the leaders from Spain, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland, as well as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the representatives of the other international organizations like World Bank Group, the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization, International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, African Union, Gulf Cooperation Council and the New Partnership for Africa's Development also attended the summit on Thursday.

(Published 26 March 2020, 14:38 IST)

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