G20 lead­ers pledge $5tr for virus cri­sis; UAE en­sures full sol­i­dar­ity

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RIYADH: G20 nations pledged a “united front” on Thurs­day in the fight against coro­n­avirus, say­ing they were in­ject­ing $5 tril­lion into the global econ­omy to counter the pandemic amid fore­casts of a deep re­ces­sion.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin joined the emer­gency video­con­fer­ence chaired by the Cus­to­dian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Sal­man Bin Ab­du­laziz Al Saud of Saudi Ara­bia, who called for co­or­di­nated ac­tion.

“We are strongly com­mit­ted to pre­sent­ing a united front against this com­mon threat,” the lead­ers said in a joint state­ment af­ter the sum­mit. “We are in­ject­ing over $5 tril­lion into the global econ­omy, as part of tar­geted fis­cal pol­icy, eco­nomic mea­sures, and guar­an­tee schemes to coun­ter­act the so­cial, eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial im­pacts of the pandemic.”

His High­ness Sheikh Mo­hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, par­tic­i­pated in the G20 Ex­tra­or­di­nary Vir­tual Lead­ers’ Sum­mit, headed by King Sal­man.

Dur­ing the sum­mit, Sheikh Mo­hamed stressed the need for more in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and sol­i­dar­ity to tackle coro­n­avirus, adding that the whole world is go­ing through un­prece­dented con­di­tions due to the spread of the virus and its trans­for­ma­tion into a global pandemic, which af­fects all as­pects of life around the world.

He also thanked Saudi Ara­bia and King Sal­man for or­gan­is­ing the G20 sum­mit, to strengthen the in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to pre­vent the spread of coro­n­avirus. Hold­ing the sum­mit high­lighted the aware­ness of G20 mem­bers of the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion and their in­ter­na­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties dur­ing this crit­i­cal pe­riod, he added.

In­di­cat­ing that there are so­ci­eties that re­quire help and sup­port, Sheikh Mo­hamed said it was nec­es­sary to stand by them and ex­tend as­sis­tance to them. He said the be­lief in the unity of des­tiny is em­bod­ied in hu­man­ity in its strong­est form, be­cause dan­ger tar­gets ev­ery­one with­out ex­cep­tion.

Sheikh Mo­hamed noted that since the out­set of the COVID-19, the UAE has been keen to en­sure full sol­i­dar­ity and co­op­er­a­tion with all other coun­tries ad­dress­ing the im­pact of the virus out­break.

“We’ve called for strength­en­ing the role played by rel­e­vant mul­ti­lat­er­als, pri­mar­ily the United Nations in ad­dress­ing the cri­sis,” he added.

As con­cerns mount for poorer coun­tries with­out ac­cess to cap­i­tal mar­kets or ad­e­quate health facilities, G20 lead­ers also pledged to work with bod­ies such as the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund to de­ploy a “ro­bust” fi­nan­cial pack­age to sup­port de­vel­op­ing nations.

“It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­tend a help­ing hand to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and (the) least de­vel­oped coun­tries to en­able them to build their ca­pac­i­ties and im­prove their in­fra­struc­ture to over­come this cri­sis and its reper­cus­sions,” King Sal­man said.

“We must have an ef­fec­tive and co­or­di­nated re­sponse to this pandemic,” the Saudi King said. “On the trade front, the G20 must send a strong sig­nal to re­store con­fi­dence in the global econ­omy by re­sum­ing, as soon as pos­si­ble, the nor­mal flow of goods and ser­vices, es­pe­cially vi­tal med­i­cal sup­plies.” The G20, cur­rently chaired by Saudi Ara­bia.

Some mem­ber coun­tries have an­nounced eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­ages to off­set broad sus­pen­sions of air travel and shut­downs of many businesses.

World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion di­rec­tor-gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus was to ad­dress the G20 to seek sup­port for ramp­ing up fund­ing and pro­duc­tion of per­sonal pro­tec­tion equip­ment for health work­ers amid a global short­age.

“We have a global re­spon­si­bil­ity as hu­man­ity and es­pe­cially those coun­tries like the G20,” Te­dros told a news con­fer­ence in Geneva late on Wed­nes­day. “They should be able to sup­port coun­tries all over the world.”

King Sal­man urged co­op­er­a­tion in fi­nanc­ing re­search and devel­op­ment for ther­a­peu­tics and a vac­cine, en­sur­ing the avail­abil­ity of vi­tal med­i­cal sup­plies and equip­ment, and help­ing less de­vel­oped coun­tries build ca­pac­i­ties.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping fol­lowed him, ad­vo­cat­ing joint macroe­co­nomic poli­cies to stop the world from en­ter­ing re­ces­sion and sta­bilise the global in­dus­trial sup­ply chain by fa­cil­i­tat­ing trade and re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers.

Also dur­ing the day, the Red Cross ap­pealed for nearly $825 mil­lion to help the world’s most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties face the chal­lenges posed by the new coro­n­avirus pandemic.

It came a day af­ter the United Nations launched its own COVID-19 hu­man­i­tar­ian re­sponse plan call­ing for $2 bil­lion to help the world’s poor­est and most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Red Cross and Red Cres­cent So­ci­eties (IFRC) said that “while COVID-19 is al­ready a global pandemic, it is still pos­si­ble to re­duce its spread and the num­ber of lives lost by im­prov­ing ac­cess to crit­i­cal re­sources.”

The Geneva-based or­gan­i­sa­tions launched their joint ap­peal for 800 mil­lion Swiss francs ($823 mil­lion).

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