Divided G20 faces pressure to lead global response to Covid-19
Many clouds of doubt are hovering over the G20 given that some of their members have their own issues with each other.
Washington/Riyadh - Officials urged to persuade banks to halt share buybacks, dividends and staff bonuses and keep money available in economy
Published: Fri 20 Mar 2020, 9:12 PM
Last updated: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 2:12 PM
The Group of 20 major economies faces mounting pressure to bridge internal divisions and unite against the coronavirus pandemic, just as it coalesced to address the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
Many questions remain ahead of an impromptu leaders next week announced by current host Saudi Arabia, including what action could be agreed, what technology will be used to communicate given the leaders will not be meeting in person, and even the date.
Current and former officials associated with the G20 say it has shirked its role as a global "fire station" since last month's meeting in Riyadh where finance officials played down the risks posed by the outbreak.
"The G7 and G20 played a more forceful role in the global financial crisis," one international finance official told Reuters. "We would have expected those two bodies to respond much more proactively to this situation."
After a call last Monday, G7 leaders committed to doing "whatever is necessary" to battle the virus.
G20 deputies are expected to talk by teleconference on Monday, multiple G20 sources said, to prepare for a meeting complicated by an oil price war between two members, Saudi Arabia and Russia, and a war of words between two others, the United States and China.
Former senior regulators say there is no time to waste, urging G20 officials to persuade banks to halt share buybacks, dividends and staff bonuses and keep money available in the economy. Two former senior US officials said international coordination will be critical to resolve the crisis and the work of just seven advanced economies, the G7, was not sufficient.
But they but raised doubts about prospects for improved cooperation on a broader scale.
"Global cooperation requires that the United States and China find ways to work together; that hardly appears feasible given current strains and finger pointing," Matthew Goodman, who advised then-President Barack Obama, and Mark Sobel, who worked at Treasury, wrote this week.
Further clouding the outlook are duelling accusations by Washington and Beijing over the origin of coronavirus.