G20 leaders vow to keep markets open to lessen COVID-19 impact

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 26, 2020

Several participants called upon the G20 to play the same role that it played in overcoming the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, when member countries pledged to inject massive fiscal stimulus and financial liquidity into the economy, the Brazilian official said.

As part of multilateral response to the pandemic, G20 leaders also committed to continue working together to facilitate worldwide trade and coordinate responses in ways that avoid unnecessary interference with global traffic and trade, according to the statement.

"We are gravely concerned with the serious risks posed to all countries, particularly developing and least developed countries, and notably in Africa and small island states", the leaders said in a statement, adding that refugees and displaced persons face "particular risk".

Saudi Arabia, the current G20 chair, called the video summit amid earlier criticism of the group's slow response to the disease. "On the trade front, the G20 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".

Brazil is a G20 country, as is Saudi Arabia, which is now in the group's presidency and slated to host the G20 Summit next October. Leaders call on organizations to make concerted efforts, including involving the private sector, to provide social, economic and healthcare support to emerging countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping followed him, advocating joint macroeconomic policies to stop the world from entering recession and stabilise the global industrial supply chain by facilitating trade and removing barriers.

Despite calls for cooperation, the G20 risks entanglement in an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation and frictions between the United States and China over the origin of the virus.

In preparatory talks, China and the United States agreed to call a timeout on their coronavirus blame game, the South China Morning Post reported, citing diplomatic sources.

"We task our trade ministers to assess the impact of of the pandemic on trade", the statement said.

Meanwhile, Washington may use the summit to launch a debate about ending an oil price war between Riyadh and Moscow that has pushed crude prices to near 20-year lows as the pandemic destroyed global demand, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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