|31 March, 2020

G20 financial officials say action plan will address low-income debt risk

An action plan by the Group of 20 major economies to address the coronavirus pandemic will consider the risk of debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries a

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan walk to the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 22, 2020.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan walk to the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 22, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

RIYADH- A plan by the Group of 20 major economies to fight the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will address the risk of debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries and deliver financial aid to emerging markets, a joint statement said on Tuesday.

In a videoconference, G20 finance ministers and central bankers discussed roles for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in deploying resources and exploring measures to alleviate a lack of liquidity in emerging markets, where economies, as elsewhere, are seizing up under the effect of the virus.

In addition, the G20 countries will work with the group's Financial Stability Board, set up after the 2008 financial crisis, to coordinate regulatory and supervisory measures taken in response to the coronavirus.

Working groups are due to flesh out details of the plan before the group's next meeting on April 15.

G20 leaders pledged last week to inject over $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the outbreak, while working to ease supply disruptions caused by border closures intended to limit transmission of the virus. 

They also committed to fund all necessary measures to stop the virus's spread and expressed concern about the risks to fragile countries, notably in Africa. They acknowledged a need to bolster financial safety nets.

They told their top finance officials to coordinate regularly with each other and with international organisations to develop an action plan in response to the pandemic, which by 1400 GMT on Tuesday had infected almost 800,000 people and killed almost 39,000.

G20 trade ministers agreed on Monday to keep their markets open and ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies, equipment and other essential goods. 

The group has been accused of being slow to respond to the outbreak, which is expected to trigger a global recession as governments impose curfews and shut businesses.

The G20 comprises Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United States, India, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, the European Union, China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jon Boyle) ((stephen.kalin@tr.com; +966554282201; Reuters Messaging: stephen.kalin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))