G20 urged to work together to fight virus

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
·2-min read

Leaders from the Group of 20 countries are urging more co-ordinated international action in the fight against COVID-19, recalling the pivotal role the group played 12 years ago during the global financial crisis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the virtual G20 Leaders' Summit hosted Saudi Arabia on Saturday and will attend again later on Sunday.

Mr Morrison, himself in isolation in The Lodge after his visit to Japan, told the summit G20 had an important role to provide hope as they work to bring the world out of the pandemic and global recession.

He noted Australia's response had been relatively successful both in suppressing the health impact of the virus and cushioning the economic impacts through unprecedented fiscal and monetary support.

There was some optimism about vaccines given the encouraging results of some candidates but leaders said a vaccine and treatment had to be safe, affordable and available to all, especially in developing countries, saying 'no one is safe until we are all safe'.

There were calls for developed countries to fill the vaccine funding gap and increase contributions to the so-called COVAX Facility which aims to ensure vaccines reach those in the greatest need, and to which Australia has already contributed.

Most leaders supported extending debt relief for vulnerable countries, noting recovery had to be sustainable and inclusive.

There were calls to resist protectionism, keep trade and supply chains open and resume safe cross-border travel.

Several leaders also noted greater digitalisation also brought challenges such as the governance frameworks around data flows.

Many leaders urged reinvigoration of the multilateral trading system and reform of the World Trade Organisation to help drive global economic recovery.

There was also a call for greater pandemic preparedness and early warning systems as the next pandemic could be more contagious and could strike at any time.

The World Health Organisation's work was see as critical in this regard and needed to be supported.