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G20 summit begins with an eye on Covid economic recovery

Published : 21 Nov 2020, 22:15

Updated : 22 Nov 2020, 01:15

  DF News Desk

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A combo of photos of world leaders attending the virutal G20 Riyadh Summit, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 21 November 2020. Photo: EFE/EPA/G20 RIYADH SUMMIT HANDOUT HANDOUT.

The annual, two-day G20 summit being held virtually this year due to coronavirus got underway on Saturday, with discussions on fair and sustainable economic recovery from the pandemic on the agenda, reported EFE.

“We have a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our peoples through adopting policies to mitigate this crisis,” said Salman bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, the event’s host.

Over the two days, the leaders of the G20, which includes many of the richest countries in the world, will discuss steps on how to boost the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 downturn.

Like at the summit in March, making the coronavirus vaccine available for developing countries will be one of the main issues to discuss.

“We must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples. At the same time, we must prepare better for any future pandemic,” the king said in the inaugural speech.

During an event held prior to the summit, Saudi investment minister Khalid al-Falih said that the suspension of the least developed countries’ debt agreed by the G20 has so far reached $40 billion dollars and has benefited 73 countries.

However, the United Nations and the European Union have said that the debt suspension was not enough and that they would ask G20 for funds to make the vaccine available for these countries.

The run-up to the summit has also been marked by calls for greater international cooperation and a return to multilateralism after US President Donald Trump broke the consensus last year by refusing to accept the Paris Agreement to fight climate change.

The imminent change of occupant in the White House after Joe Biden emerged victorious in the presidential elections has raised expectations of the US return to the climate deal.

“Only by joining forces and working together that we will defeat coronavirus and build back better from this crisis,” British Prime Minister Boris Jonson said in a video message.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro called for cooperation within the group to get past the coronavirus.

The South American leader, however, once again put the health and economic risks of the coronavirus on the same page and called for working towards “economic growth, the freedom of the people and the prosperity of the world."

Although fighting the coronavirus remains a top priority for the G20 this year, several countries raised the issue of fighting climate change as the Saudi presidency seeks a “sustainable” recovery.

“We also need to create the conditions for a more sustainable economy,” King Salman said in his speech.

The health and economic crisis has cast a shadow on some of the issues put on the agenda by the Saudi presidency this year.

The kingdom proposed to focus on technological innovation, the protection of the planet and the creation of opportunities, particularly for young people and women, among other issues.

The G20 is comprised of Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, the United States, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the European Union.

In addition to Spain, the permanent guest, Switzerland, Jordan and Singapore have also been invited to participate this year.