Riyadh, 21 Nov 2020 (AFP) – The G20 countries today called for the first day of their annual summit, organized this year by Saudi Arabia in virtual format, for a global effort to facilitate access to vaccines against coronavirus and fight its devastating economic consequences, including debt, including debt.
The two-day meeting of the world’s richest countries (19 nations, to which the European Union is added) takes place at a time when the group receives criticism for its response to the global recession and when the President of the United States, Donald Trump, continues without recognizing its defeat in the presidential elections.
This time, there was no grand opening ceremony, nor the opportunity to reach bilateral agreements. The summit – the first G20 in an Arab country – was limited to short online sessions.
“While we are optimistic about progress in the development of vaccines, therapies and diagnostic tools for covid-19, we must work to create the conditions for cheap and equal access to these tools for everyone,” said King Salman in his speech. opening, under the watchful eye of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader.
In the video conference opening, unusual images were seen, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping asking for help from a technician or that of the French President laughing and talking to someone behind the camera.
The summit host appeared in the center of the screen surrounded by miniature images of world leaders, an image that has become common around the world since the virus appeared.
Some did not seem to have mastered this format yet, and French President Emmanuel Macron was seen playing with someone off the scene, and his Chinese equivalent Xi Jinping calling one of his assistants.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, made a brief appearance in which he spoke mainly “of the United States’ energy actions and preventive measures to protect the vulnerable, pioneering and innovative treatments and the development of vaccines and therapies in record time, which will save millions of lives, “the White House said in a statement.
Then Trump headed for a golf course near Washington.
A world at two speeds
“We will be prepared to guarantee access [às vacinas] on a global scale and avoid the scenario of a world at two speeds at all costs? “asked French President Emmanuel Macron in his speech.
Along with the issue of vaccine distribution, the G20 is expected to respond to calls to expand its funding to fight the virus, which has infected more than 55 million people and killed more than 1.3 million worldwide.
Even before the summit starts, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “there is a deficit of 28 billion [de dólares], of which 4.2 billion will be needed before the end of the year “to finance the ACT-Accelerator, a device of the World Health Organization to ensure that rich countries do not monopolize treatments, tests or vaccines.
“Access to vaccination must be possible and accessible for all countries,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel, while President Jair Bolsonaro assured that “from the beginning, we exalt that it was necessary to take care of health and the economy simultaneously. Time has been proving that we were right “.
The G20 countries have already spent more than 21 billion dollars (17.7 billion euros) to fight the coronavirus. They also mobilized about $ 11 trillion to save the world economy, according to organizers.
“Alarming levels of inequality”
G20 members must also address the debt of the poorest countries, which face a collapse in their external financing.
In April, the G20 adopted a six-month debt default moratorium, which runs until June 2021. Guterres called for a “firm commitment” to extend this grace period until the end of 2021.
In this sense, the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, denounced on Saturday at the summit the “alarming levels of inequality” in the world, called for “cooperation and solidarity” and recalled that his country made an “enormous fiscal effort”.
In addition to Bolsonaro and Fernández, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, representatives of the only three Latin American countries of the G20, also participates in the G20.
Human rights abuses in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia overshadowed the summit, with which Riyadh hoped to improve its image after Mohamed bin Salman’s reforms, aimed, among other things, at reducing his dependence on oil profits.