NEW DELHI :
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Group of 20 (G20) major economies has an important role to play in tackling the global coronavirus crisis as its housebound leaders prepared to meet for a ‘virtual summit’ on Thursday to agree on a coordinated response.
“The #G20 has an important global role to play in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. I look forward to productive discussions tomorrow at the #G20VirtualSummit, being coordinated by the Saudi G20 Presidency," Modi said in a Twitter post on Wednesday.
The leaders have a huge task on hand: the Covid-19 contagion that surfaced in China in December has roiled global stock markets and caused major disruption across sectors.
On Tuesday, International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva warned that the global economy could be staring at a recession as bad as or worse than the one during the global financial crisis of 2008.
According to a statement from Saudi Arabia, “King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will chair the meeting to advance a coordinated global response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications."
G20 members will be joined by leaders from invited countries including Spain, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland, as well as the IMF, United Nations, World Bank Group, the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Regional organizations will be represented by Vietnam, the chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations; South Africa, the chair of the African Union; the United Arab Emirates, the chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council; and Rwanda, the chair of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
Separately, “Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi had a telephone conversation with President Putin today. Both leaders exchanged views on the situation regarding Covid-19 pandemic," the Indian embassy in Russia said in a Twitter post.
Russia is one of the members of the G20.
At a meeting of G20 finance ministers earlier this week, the grouping agreed to develop a joint action plan in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which will outline the individual and collective actions that G20 member states will undertake to contain the pandemic.
“Furthermore, G20 finance ministers and governors discussed ways for stepping up coordinated efforts by bilateral and multilateral creditors to address the risks of debt vulnerabilities, especially in low-income countries, amid the Covid-19 pandemic," Saudi Arabia had said earlier this week.
Saudi Arabia currently holds the rotating presidency of G20 and will chair the meeting this year.
Covid-19 has led to a serious downturn, akin to an “economic tsunami", in the global economy and the extent of economic damage caused by the pandemic will depend on the trajectory of the virus and how quickly governments respond, Moody’s Analytics said on Tuesday.
The virtual meeting of G20 leaders comes after a telephone conversation between Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week.
The two leaders spoke of the joint effort on the part of the world’s developed and developing economies.
Modi also discussed the matter with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Since its emergence in December, Covid-19 has claimed over 19,600 lives.