After two days of summit, the 20 leading world economic powers declared on Sunday their desire to make a potential vaccine against Covid accessible to as many people as possible. Timid measures have also been enacted to relieve the public debt of poor countries.
Switzerland participated for the first time in this great virtual meeting (coronavirus obliges) of the elites of the world conducted from Riyadh, as a guest. At its end, the President of the Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga welcomed the G20 declaration on climate and trade, a “positive sign for multilateralism”.
This declaration will be useful for the health and economic crisis linked to Covid-19 on the one hand and the climate crisis on the other, she said.
The climate at the heart of Switzerland’s concerns
During this summit bringing together the countries which pollute the most, Switzerland particularly insisted on the risks associated with climate change. Sustainable investments in the economy and climate protection also benefit people and businesses.
For a first participation, the Federal Councilor had to deal with special conditions. “Bilateral contacts are lacking, it’s not really possible to talk to each other. We can send each other a few texts during the summit, but that does not replace direct meetings,” she said in the 19:30.
On the issue of access to the vaccine against Covid-19, “concretely, this summit does not oblige anyone”, specifies the president, but announcing this support was in a way “a moral obligation”.
“Solidarity” announced for access to vaccines
“We will stop at no effort to ensure affordable and equitable access” to future vaccines, promised G20 members in their final declaration, without however mentioning any financial amount to support the goals of the World Health Organization.
But this statement of principle struggles to convince. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “worried that nothing has yet been done” concretely to ensure vaccination in poor countries. For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron called on his counterparts to “go further faster”, by donating doses, forging industrial partnerships or even by sharing intellectual property. Finally, “we need more funding,” stressed the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Timid progress on the indebtedness of poor countries
The G20 has also promised to tackle the explosive issue of indebtedness in poor countries, but without really spectacular announcements, to the chagrin of NGOs and the UN.
In their final communiqué, the participants reiterate their commitment to “implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative”, decided in mid-April, and extended a month ago until June 30, 2021, when the Nations united hoped for an extension until the end of 2021.
To date, only 46 countries have had their interest payments deferred, amounting to $ 5.7 billion. A drop in the bucket compared to the 11,000 billion dollars spent by the G20 countries to fight the pandemic, denounce the NGOs.
“Scoop the Titanic with a bucket”
On Wednesday Zambia, confronted precisely with the refusal of its private creditors to temporarily freeze the service of its debt, declared itself in default of payment. It is the first African country to announce that it will stop honoring its commitments. On the same day, Bolivia warned that it was considering temporarily suspending payment of its debt until its economic situation improved.
In this context, the moratorium amounts to “bailing the Titanic with a bucket”, estimates the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), recalling that its 46 beneficiaries accumulated at the end of 2018 a debt of 71.5 billion dollars.
Above all, “the list of countries concerned is too small”, judges Oxfam France. Middle-income countries are excluded, such as Lebanon, Argentina or Mexico. Others, like Kenya, preferred not to request a postponement for fear of seeing their rating downgraded by the rating agencies, and their financing costs soar, as happened in Cameroon.
jop with agencies