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G20: An important tool for global cooperation against pandemic

By Wu Hongying | | Updated: 2020-06-09 12:20
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At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging all over the world, and more than 200 countries on five continents are not spared. The health and lives of all human beings are seriously threatened. The world is in the worst public health crisis in nearly a century. Almost all countries have taken measures such as city lockdowns and border closures in order to protect themselves. For a time, pessimism, unilateralism and protectionism prevailed.

At this critical moment, G20 parties put aside their differences, coordinated action and demonstrated international cooperation to fight COVID-19, which provided confidence and hope for the global response.

G20, born at the time of the international financial crisis in 2008, grew up in the process of global economic governance. It has become the most important platform for the global response to economic crisis. In the face of the severe epidemic situation and the strong call for strengthening international cooperation, the G20 came forward and played an active role. As of today it has held more than 10 remote video conferences, including 1 summit of leaders, 2 meetings of trade ministers and 5 meetings of central bank governors and finance ministers, as well as ministerial meetings in the fields of agriculture, digital economy, health, energy and tourism.

These activities have become rays of light in a dark moment, as COVID-19 continues to spread over the globe, the world economy rapidly declines and the international political atmosphere deteriorates. It is worth mentioning that the first video summit of G20 leaders on March 26 pointed out the direction for promoting global anti-epidemic response, stabilizing the economy and strengthening international cooperation. In order to implement the consensus reached by the G20 leaders' special summit, the second video special meeting of G20 trade ministers on May 14 passed an important action plan, the “G20 Actions to Support World Trade and Investment in Response to COVID-19”.

The document was the biggest result of the G20's second special meeting of trade ministers, becoming a roadmap for international cooperation against COVID-19. It has several distinctive features: First, it is highly planned, including both short-term and long-term collective action plans. Second, it covers a wide scope, including eight areas of trade regulation, trade facilitation, transparency, operation of logistics networks, support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, supporting the multilateral trading system, building resilience in global supply chains, and strengthening international investment. Third, it is highly targeted, encouraging technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries and LDCs, and supports micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to better participate in international trade and investment.

Finally, it is feasible. It proposes 38 specific action measures, including restricting unnecessary trade and investment barriers, increasing the transparency of emergency management measures and promoting global logistics interconnection. If this plan was successfully implemented, it would greatly help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on trade and investment and lay a solid foundation for global economic recovery based on strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

Of course, the scope of commodities covered by the document is mainly limited to medical supplies, agricultural products and humanitarian relief supplies. As for the "hardcore" issues of broad concern to the international community, such as WTO reform, trade dispute settlement mechanisms and the status of developing countries, the document is less involved. Therefore, the long-term effects of the document are worth observing.

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 is an enemy of all mankind and a big test for the international community, and international cooperation is the only solution. As Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized at the first video summit of G20 leaders, what the international community needs most now is "firm confidence, concerted efforts and united response."

As an important platform for global governance composed of major developed countries and emerging market countries, the G20 played an important role in responding to the international financial crisis in the past and it will serve as a leader and coordinator in fighting COVID-19 and stabilizing the world economy today. In the context of the current lack of global leadership from the United States, weakened desire for cooperation in various countries and challenges to the authority of the WHO, the role of the G20 is even more important.

At present, the G20 is working with WHO, IMF, the World Bank, the UN and other international organizations to make efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and stabilize the global economy. We have always believed, and will continue to do so, that "no winter will not pass, no spring will not come."

Dr. Wu Hongying is director of the Center for BRICS and G20 Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and a State Council allowance expert.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.


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