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Italy's G20 presidency gets underway, ministers agree to continue coronavirus stimulus efforts

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-02-28 08:57

The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBGs) meet on Friday for the first time under the Italian G20 presidency. Daniele Franco and Ignazio Visco are seen in this photo during the streamed G20 meeting in Rome. [Photo/g20.org]

ROME - The top finance officials from the world's major economies have emerged from Friday's summit with agreement to commit to a more multilateral process aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and sparking global economic growth.

Friday's virtual summit of finance ministers and central bank governors was the first major event of Italy's year-long presidency of the Group of 20, or G20, a forum representing the world's major economies.

The main agreement among participants was to continue with expansionary fiscal policies aimed at helping prop up economies struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We agreed that any premature withdrawal of fiscal and monetary support should be avoided," said Daniele Franco, who took office as Italy's Minister of Economy and Finance two weeks ago.

Franco also warned that most people in the world "will not get back to ... normal lives until the virus is eradicated in all countries." He said the G20 was committed to "assuring equitable access" to safe coronavirus vaccines, as the group agreed that uneven access to vaccines would slow the global economic recovery.

The World Health Organization has estimated that it would cost an estimated $22.9 billion to guarantee equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics, and treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The ministers and governors discussed steps that could be taken to help confront immediate financial problems in developing countries, especially in Africa, where communities have been hit hard by the pandemic and where they lack the resources to curb its spread.

Participants also agreed to discuss international tax rules later this year, without addressing specific issues related to the topic.

Another major meeting will be a formal update of the G20 Action Plan in April, which will focus on pre-pandemic priorities including falling industrial productivity, increasing inequality, climate- and environment-related risks, and the development of sustainable infrastructure.

Italy's presidency of the G20 will include another summit of finance ministers and central bank governors in July in Venice, meetings on climate change and tax policy, also set for July, and a summit of heads of state in October, in addition to several smaller meetings between March and the end of the Italian G20 presidency in December.

All told, the G20 accounts for more than 80 percent of the world's economic activity, 75 percent of global trade, and around two-thirds of the world's population. The group includes 19 countries including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus the European Union.

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