G20 seeks greater cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

G20

The G-20 nations, through an emergency video-call on Thursday, decided to inject $ 5 trillion into the global economy to fight the social and economic challenges offset by the coronavirus pandemic. The countries pledged a “united front” and to do “whatever it takes” to minimise the impact of the outbreak during the two-hour meeting chaired by King Salman of Saudi Arabia. 

The member countries released a joint statement at the end of the video-conference which highlighted the G20 members’ commitment to overcoming the pandemic through concerted efforts with international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and the United Nations who were all participants to the conference. As were leaders from other affected countries including Spain, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland. 

Combating this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity. We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat,” the statement read, underscoring the members’ efforts to collectively fight the pandemic. 

Coordinated efforts 

The statement reflects the G20’s commitment to “deploy a robust, coherent, coordinated, and rapid financial package and to address” gaps in the toolkit of international organisations such as the WHO, IMF and World Bank. The countries are committed to “share timely and transparent information; exchange epidemiological and clinical data; share materials necessary for research and development; and strengthen health systems globally, including through supporting the full implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations.” 

They have called for an increase in the epidemic preparedness spending that will enhance the protection of especially vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by the spread of the virus. They have taken steps to further increase research and development spending particularly in the development of vaccines and medicines while leveraging digital technologies. “We will bolster our coordination, including with the private sector, towards rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of diagnostics, antiviral medicines, and vaccines, adhering to the objectives of efficacy, safety, equity, accessibility, and affordability,” the statement stated.

Financial stimulus 

The G20 countries have also taken steps to safeguard the global economy, committing to do “whatever it takes and to use all available policy tools to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic, restore global growth, maintain market stability, and strengthen resilience.” The $ 5 trillion injection into the global economy will come as part of targeted fiscal policies and economic measures. In addition to asking International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to monitor the pandemic’s impact on employment, the group has also asked for bolstered coordination with the private sector to contribute to these efforts and to support the developing countries facing the health, economic, and social shocks created by COVID-19

The announcement of the global financial stimulus comes at a time that member countries of the G20 are themselves releasing aid packages to ease the impact on their national economies. Most notably, Indian Finance Minister announced a scheme costing the government a whopping Rs. 1.7 lakh crore ($ 22.6 billion) targeted to help the poorer sections of the society (including migrants workers, women and the handicapped) while the American Senate passed a $ 2.2 trillion aid package that is pending approval from the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, Italy has announced $ 28 billion plan and Spain, a $ 220 billion stimulus package. 

This blog was authored by Aarushi Aggarwal.