G20 to discuss post-pandemic world, back debt relief

“Family Photo” for annual G20 Summit World Leaders is projected onto Salwa Palace in At-Turaif, one of Saudi Arabia?s UNESCO World Heritage sites, in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, November 20, 2020. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Leaders of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) will debate this week how to deal with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that has caused a global recession and how to manage the recovery once the virus is under control.

Reuters reported that purchases and global distribution of vaccines, drugs and tests for low income countries that cannot afford such expenses themselves would high on the agenda.

The European Union will urge the G20 on Saturday to invest $4.5 billion to help during the summit, chaired by Saudi Arabia and held virtually because of the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to host a G20 summit.

“The main theme will be to step up global cooperation to address the pandemic,” said a senior G20 official taking part in the preparations for the two-day summit, according to Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump will also participate in the virtual Group of 20 summit, AFP reported.

Held under the shadow of the raging pandemic, the summit which is usually an opportunity for one-on-one engagements between world leaders is reduced to brief online sessions on pressing global issues – from climate change to growing inequality.

To prepare for the future, the EU will propose a treaty on pandemics.

“An international treaty would help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner,” the chairman of EU leaders Charles Michel will tell the G20 on Sunday, Reuters said.

While the global economy is recovering from the depths of the crisis earlier this year, momentum is slowing in countries with resurging infection rates, the recovery is uneven and the pandemic is likely to leave deep scars, the International Monetary Fund said in a report for the G20 summit.

Especially vulnerable are poor and highly indebted countries in the developing world, which are “on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and until suffering”, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday.

To address this, the G20 will endorse a plan to extend a debt servicing moratorium for developing countries by six months to mid-2021, with a possibility of a further extension, said a draft G20 communique seen by Reuters.

European members of the G20 are likely to push for more.

“More debt relief is needed,” Michel told reporters on Friday.

Debt relief for Africa will be a main theme of the Italian presidency of the G20 in 2021.

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