As the more lethal and contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 rips across the globe, the prospects of multilateral efforts to combat the virus, tackle the looming global debt crisis and mount a sustainable economic recovery are dim. Nowhere is the insufficiency of the multilateral response more apparent than on the issue of debt relief.
Political failure to tackle the pandemic divide will aggravate the dangerously divergent paths between the advanced economies and China, and many emerging markets and developing economies.
AKSHAY MATHUR writes: The recent G20 finance ministers’ meeting has reminded us of the powerful role the G20 plays in financial multilateralism. In the last year alone, the G20 has secured a global deal on international taxation, US $650 billion worth of Special Drawing Rights, and launched a debt-relief programme for low-income nations suffering from COVID. It is a work plan reminiscent of G20’s role during the trans-Atlantic financial crisis a decade ago.
ERIN WATSON-LYNN writes for The Interpreter: The last 18 months have been trying times for the Group of 20 (G20). The Covid world continues to challenge the effectiveness of multilateralism – the practicalities as well as the policy issues. While the government-to-government track of the G20 appears held together by a hybrid of in-person and Zoom meetings, it is the civil organising engagement groups that are increasingly under strain
go to The Interpreter website: The G20 “diplomacy dividend” (lowyinstitute.org)
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s. International trade has been severely impacted due to, among others, budgetary shortfalls, reduced access to medical equipment, and an overall decline in economic activity. Even before the pandemic hit, international trade was held hostage by trade wars in a deeply polarised world; COVID-19 further exposed the faultlines of the global economic order. It is essential to build institutional resilience through coordinated or joint policy responses to meet the pressing challenges posed by the pandemic. The Group of Twenty (G20) can play a critical role in spearheading a global recovery that is sustainable, inclusive and multilateral.
In April 2020, the G20, at the urging of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, launched the Debt Service Standstill Initiative (DSSI) to mitigate the negative financial impact of COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries at a time when the pandemic’s medical and economic consequences were highly uncertain.
Saudi Arabia hosted the G20 Summit on 21-22 November, this year. A strategy to protect the global economy, which is the heart of the G20’s existence, was reflected in the updated G20 Action Plan, a clear by-product of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the immediate, is the plan for a resilient and long-lasting recovery.