The G20 leaders said Sunday they would “go out of their way” to ensure the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world and to support poor countries whose economies have been hit by the crisis.
As the pandemic rages, the Club of the World’s Richest Nations has adopted a unified tone for the challenges ahead during a virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabian King Salman said the “spirit of collaboration” is now “needed more than ever to face the effects of the pandemic and create a prosperous future for people around the world“.
But after a weekend of “digital diplomacy”, her final statement lacked details on many of the issues that dominated the talks.
“We have mobilized resources to meet immediate funding needs in global healthcare and to support the research, development, manufacture and distribution of safe and effective Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines,” the statement said.
“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people.”
As richer nations plan their vaccination programs, and the U.S. is slated to launch in early December, experts warn developing countries face hurdles that could deny billions the first proven protection against the virus.
The G20 is increasingly being asked to close a $ 4.5 billion funding gap in the so-called ACT Accelerator, a mechanism run by the World Health Organization that aims to ensure access to tests, treatments and vaccines for all.
In a comment echoed by other leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday that the coronavirus crisis was “a test for the G20”, stressing that “there will be no effective response to the pandemic if it isn’t a global response acts “.
However, the final communication did not set out how to bear the massive cost of the exercise.
The unusual format of the summit instead of a real meeting where restrictions on the coronavirus were made impossible has led to some unpleasant interactions and deprived Saudi Arabia of the opportunity to present itself on the international stage.
US President Donald Trump made a brief appearance at the opening session, praising his administration’s achievements in coronavirus before signing out and playing golf, while other leaders braved technical quirks and lack of opportunities for spontaneous interactions.
The Mercury President again caused a sensation on Sunday and defended his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. He called it “unfair and one-sided” and wanted to kill the “American economy”.
In the communique, however, the group took a consensus position on climate change and reiterated their support for tackling “urgent” environmental problems.
Differences within the G20 were made public at last year’s summit in the Japanese city of Osaka when the United States asked for a separate paragraph on issues such as environmental protection.
The G20 has contributed more than $ 21 billion to fight the pandemic, which infected 56 million people and left 1.3 million dead worldwide, and injected $ 11 trillion to prop up the troubled global economy, organizers of the Summit.
However, the group is facing mounting pressure to prevent possible loan defaults from developing countries as their debt mounts amid the economic disaster sparked by the virus.
It has extended a debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) for developing countries until June next year, but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a commitment to extend it until the end of 2021.
The communique did not offer a firm guarantee, a result that will certainly disappoint activists.
Instead, the G20 finance ministers will consider the recommendation when the IMF and World Bank meet next spring “if the economic and financial situation calls for an extension of another six months”.
After months of border closings and lockdowns in the world, the group adopted a unified tone on trade as well, saying that supporting a multilateral system was “now more important than ever”.
“We strive to achieve the goal of a free, fair, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trading and investment environment and to keep our markets open,” said the press release.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has dwarfed the gathering as activists and families of detained activists make vigorous efforts to highlight the issue.
But the problem barely surfaced over the weekend, with Western officials saying they prefer to use bilateral forums to discuss the problem with Riyadh.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)