Leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies on Sunday pledged “affordable and equitable access” to vaccines against the coronavirus as the global pandemic overshadowed their annual summit.
“We have mobilized resources to address the immediate financing needs in global health to support the research, development, manufacturing, and distribution of safe and effective Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines,” they said in a final declaration concluding their two-day summit held online.
Several leaders in the group had voiced their countries’ willingness to cooperate on research into and production and distribution of vaccines to help fight the pandemic, a crucial step towards global economic recovery.
The bloc’s leaders said on Sunday they were committed to a debt suspension initiative launched in March for the least developed countries that would allow the beneficiaries to defer 14 billion dollars in debt payments due this year and its extension to June 2021.
The summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, focused on addressing the health, economic and social impacts of the global pandemic.
The group’s leaders said they were determined to support developing and the least developed countries in grappling with the intertwined health, economic, and social effects of Covid-19.
“We are determined to continue to use all available policy tools as long as required to safeguard people’s lives, jobs and incomes, support the global economic recovery, and enhance the resilience of the financial system.”
In March, the G20 vowed to coordinate their response to the pandemic. Since then, the G20 has collectively injected 11 trillion dollars to mitigate the impact on the global economy.
The summit marked Saudi Arabia’s first time managing the presidency of the G20, which brings together 19 countries and the European Union.
In closing remarks before handing over the G20 presidency to Italy, Saudi King Salman said the summit had imparted a “message of hope and reassurance” to people around the world.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the date for next year’s summit at October 30-31. The goal of the Italian presidency was to be worldwide post-pandemic reconstruction.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the cooperation between the leaders and said that the G20 final declaration breathes “the spirit of multilateral cooperation,” which was very important in these times.
The coronavirus pandemic was a global challenge that could only be responded to by all actors, she said in Berlin. The G20 countries had contributed to multilateralism and the global fight against challenges playing a major role.
The G20 encompasses two-thirds of the world’s population, 85 per cent of global economic output and 75 per cent of world trade.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump slammed the Paris Accord, the international climate agreement that he unilaterally withdrew from, saying it would kill jobs at home.
“The Paris accord was not designed to save the environment. It was designed to kill the American economy,” he said in a brief speech.
Trump has long argued that the deal benefits US competitors like China and that Washington did not need an international agreement to work on cleaning up air pollution and water sources.
The US – the world’s largest economy and second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China – is the first nation to quit the accord, which was signed by nearly all countries in 2015.