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G20 finance ministers to hold virtual talks on coronavirus crisis

Update: March, 31/2020 - 11:00
A man walks past a closed restaurant in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 30, 2020. Turkey on Monday announced 37 more deaths from COVID-19, while the total number of infection cases in the country has risen to 10,827. A total of 168 people have died from the COVID-19, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted. — XINHUA/VNA Photo

RIYADH — Finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 major economies will hold a second round of virtual talks Tuesday to push ahead the coronavirus response, the Saudi hosts said.

G20 leaders last week pledged a "united front" in the fight against the pandemic, saying they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to head off forecasts of a deep recession.

Saudi Arabia, which holds the group's rotating presidency, said the ministers and bank governors will convene for the second time to "advance a coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications".

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the emergency summit chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman, who called for coordinated action while facing pressure to end an oil price war between Riyadh and Moscow that has roiled energy markets.

The talks came after criticism that the G20 has been slow to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more than 37,500 dead worldwide and triggered financial shock waves as some two-fifths of the globe's population is put under lockdown.

The $5 trillion figure is the sum total of the fiscal stimulus packages adopted by individual G20 states, the Chinese foreign ministry said, adding that Beijing's share amounted to $344 billion.

As concerns mount for poorer countries without access to capital markets or adequate health facilities, G20 leaders also pledged to work with bodies such as the International Monetary Fund to deploy a "robust" financial package to support developing nations.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter that "a strong initiative" would be launched to help African nations deal with the crisis.

Putin called for a moratorium on sanctions during the pandemic, telling G20 leaders it was a matter "of life and death". Russia has faced numerous rounds of Western sanctions following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

G20 trade and investment ministers also held an extraordinary meeting on Monday, as they assess the impact of the crisis on global trade.

They said they were working to ensure the flow across borders of medical supplies and equipment – which are in short supply in some hard-hit nations – as well as critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services.

"We will guard against profiteering and unjustified price increases," they said in a statement.

The G20 ministers also warned that emergency measures adopted in the midst of the crisis must be "proportionate, transparent, and temporary", and that they do not create barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains. — AFP

 

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