G20 summit ends with hopes for global cooperation on COVID-19

G20 SUMMIT ENDS WITH HOPES FOR GLOBAL COOPERATION ON COVID-19

The 15th G20 Leaders' Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia ended on Sunday with promises made on global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, climate change action and debt relief for the poorest countries.

The coronavirus pandemic topped the agenda of the two-day Group of 20 major economies, with countries committing to ensure "affordable and equitable" access to coronavirus vaccines worldwide and to be prepared to deal with future health crises.

The G20 leaders pledged over $21 billion at the outset of the crisis to support funding in global health capacities, according to a statement by G20.

Moreover, the members have injected over $11 trillion so far to shield the economy and protect livelihoods, it said.

Referring to countries' $10 billion investment in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its vaccine pillar, the COVAX Facility, the UN chief said, it is still underfunded.

Antonio Guterres said some $28 billion more is needed, including $4.2 billion before the end of the year.

"This funding is critical for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines and tools around the world," he stressed.

In his closing speech, Saudi Arabia's King Salman said: "We were able to reaffirm the spirit of cooperation that has always been the cornerstone of the G20 successes.

"This spirit is necessary today more than ever to face the impacts of this pandemic and to build a prosperous future for the people of the world."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said decisions taken at this year's G20 summit will prove decisive in global efforts to curb the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and in meeting the world's expectations from the bloc.

Pointing to the pandemic's "tremendous effect" on all aspects of human life, he said: "The pandemic has also reminded us all once again that we are members of the great family of mankind regardless of religion, language, region, and race."

He said Turkey has extended a helping hand to 156 countries and nine international organizations in the fight against the pandemic, as well as meeting the needs of its own people.

INTERNATIONAL PANDEMIC TREATY PROPOSED

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, proposed an international agreement on the pandemic to prevent future pandemics.

"It should be negotiated with all nations, UN organizations and agencies, in particular the WHO. The WHO must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies.

"A treaty on pandemics could complement its efforts," Michel said.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a further search for common approaches to reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) in accordance with modern challenges.

He also warned about a risk of national currencies devaluation and, consequently, an increase in the cost of servicing public debt, especially for low-income countries, two-thirds of whose borrowings are denominated in dollars.

"I think additional measures are needed to prevent the situation from getting worse and economic and social inequality from growing," he said.

Stressing more funding is needed in the fight against virus, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "This is why I called G20 Leaders to commit to fund $4.5 billion for the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator by the end of the year.

"As a lesson from the crisis we need to step up global preparedness," von der Leyen added.

She said the countries also need to step up actions to fight climate change, noting: "The EU leads the way to climate neutrality by 2050 and many G20 partners now have taken the same commitments."

On climate change, the leaders agreed on a unified paragraph in the G20 Riyadh Declaration, after three consecutive G20 Summits where such consensus could not be reached.

'ECONOMIES MUST GROW SUSTAINABLY'

Following the G20 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also emphasized that the pandemic made governments more conscious that economies must grow sustainably rather than "at the expense of environmental degradation."

"There is a desire to learn from the pandemic and make the economy more sustainable," she said.

Speaking about the climate issue, Merkel said all states except the US made a commitment to follow the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Other crucial global issues such as the economic recovery, reform of the WTO, taxation of the digital economy and ways to support low-income countries have been discussed at the summit.

The G20 leaders committed to implementing the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) including its extension through June 2021.

They recalled their support to the WTO reform process in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference.

The group agreed to strive to find a consensus-based solution for a globally fair, sustainable, and modern international tax system by mid-2021.

The G20 consists of Germany, the US, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia, France, South Africa, South Korea, India, the UK, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the European Union.

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