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AFP
June 3, 2020

Former and current world leaders urge G20 to hold virus summit

World

AFP
June 3, 2020

LONDON: A group of current and former world leaders on Tuesday called on the G20 to convene an urgent summit to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and provide a “strongly coordinated global response”. The collective of more than 230 former world leaders, and top global health experts and economists said the G20 must unite around a multi-trillion dollar plan to face what they said was an “unprecedented global crisis”. Noting poorer countries are most at risk, they demanded the developed world release 76 nations from debt payments, double the World Bank’s emergency aid fund and honour billions of dollars committed to COVID-19 vaccine efforts. “The time is right for G20 leaders to hold a second meeting to... agree to a more strongly coordinated global response to the health, economic and social emergencies we face,” they said in an open letter to world leaders. The G20, an international forum bringing together the world’s largest economies, held an emergency video-conference summit in late March but is not due to gather again until November. “The consequences of not acting now would be felt for the rest of the decade,” added the signatories, including UK former prime minsters Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, of New Zealand, and the ex-UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. “Without action from the G20, the recession caused by the pandemic will only deepen, hurting all economies and the world’s most marginalised and poorest peoples and nations the most.

The group noted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had estimated developing countries would need £2 trillion ($2.5 trillion, 2.2 trillion euros) to overcome the crisis. But it said only a fraction of that sum had so far been allocated.

“The G20 should agree that the $2.5 trillion level of support will now be provided,” they urged. That would require the IMF, the World Bank and regional development banks to raise their lending and grant ceilings. The letter also called for action against tax havens, with sanctions issued against countries which breach the rules, to ensure adequate funding. Meanwhile it urged global co-operation around the development of vaccines “to ensure that they are universally and freely available as quickly as possible.