Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have said they look forward to getting negotiations going on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) for their two countries, covering trade in goods, services, and protecting and promoting investment. Expressing satisfaction at the implementation of development cooperation projects, they looked forward to the joint inauguration of three projects (Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link, Unit-II of the Maitri Power Plant and Khulna-Mongla Rail Link) at a convenient date later. The two leaders had a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on Friday (September 08, 2023). PM Hasina is visiting India as its guest country to participate in the G-20 Leaders Summit on 9-10 September 2023. Read more: Hasina, Modi agree to resolve outstanding bilateral issues through talks With regard to the regional situation, Prime Minister Modi expressed appreciation of the burden shouldered by Bangladesh in hosting over a million persons displaced from Rakhine State in Myanmar, and conveyed India's constructive and positive approach to support solutions towards safe and sustainable repatriation of the refugees. The Indian side welcomed the Indo-Pacific Outlook announced by Bangladesh recently, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (Indian Foreign Ministry). The leaders agreed to continue working together to intensify their wide-ranging engagement. The two leaders discussed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation including political and security cooperation, border management, trade and connectivity, water resources, power and energy, development cooperation, cultural and people to people ties. Current developments in the region and cooperation in the multilateral fora were also discussed. Read more: Dhaka, New Delhi sign 3 MoUs after Hasina-Modi talks They welcomed the operationalization of the Agreement on the use of the Chattogram and Mongla Ports and commissioning of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline. They also expressed appreciation for operationalization of settlement of bilateral trade in INR (rupee) and encouraged the business community on both sides to utilize the mechanism. Hasina thanked Modi for the hospitality of the government and people of India, as the two leaders looked forward to continuing interactions at all levels. Read more: Hasina, Modi didn't talk about Bangladesh election: Momen
Members of the Group of 20 leading economies ended their summit Wednesday with a declaration of firm condemnation of the war in Ukraine and a warning that the conflict is making an already delicate world economy worse. The summit’s closing statement was noteworthy because world leaders managed to highlight a denunciation of the war despite the divisions among the group, which includes not only Russia but also countries such as China and India that have significant trade ties with Moscow and have stopped short of outright criticism of the war. “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy,” the statement said. The use of the words “most members” was a telling sign of the divisions, as was an acknowledgement that “there were other views and different assessments” and that the G-20 is “not the forum to resolve security issues.” Also read: Putin won’t be at G20 summit, avoiding possible confrontation with US Even so, the statement’s use of language from a March U.N. resolution that deplored “in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and demanded “its complete and unconditional withdrawal” from Ukrainian territory was a “big breakthrough,” according to John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Group. “Here the G-20 left no doubt about who it knew had started the war and how it should end,” he said in an interview. He noted an “active shift” by China and India, which joined the “democratic side of the great immediate geopolitical divide.” The conflict in Ukraine loomed large over the two-day summit held on the tropical island of Bali in Indonesia. News early Wednesday of an explosion that rocked eastern Poland prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to hastily arrange an emergency meeting with G-7 and NATO members at the summit. Biden said it was “unlikely” Russia fired the missile but added: “I’m going to make sure we find out exactly what happened.” Poland and NATO’s head said later Wednesday the missile strike appeared to be unintentional and was probably launched by air defenses in Ukraine as Russia was bombarding the country in an attack that savaged its power grid. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, however, disputed the preliminary findings and asked for further investigation. Russia denied involvement. Biden was joined at the G-20 by leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend. Also read: G20 Presidency: India to invite Bangladesh as guest country On Tuesday, Russia pounded Ukrainian cities with dozens of missile strikes in its biggest barrage yet on the country’s energy facilities, which have been repeatedly struck as winter approaches. Sunak, speaking to reporters at the close of the meeting, called the attacks “the cruel and unrelenting reality of Putin’s war.” “While other world leaders were working together to tackle the greatest challenges our people face, Putin was launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Ukraine,” Sunak said. The war, he added, will “continue to devastate the global economy.” The careful wording of the final G-20 statement reflected tensions at the gathering and the challenge faced by the United States and its allies as they try to isolate Putin’s government. Several G-20 members, including host Indonesia, are wary of becoming entangled in disputes between bigger powers. Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters that the portion of the declaration dealing with the war was the most contentious part of the negotiations and that discussions were “very, very tough.” The final product was seen by some as a strong rebuke of a war that has killed thousands, heightened global security tensions and disrupted the world economy. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the G-20 summit’s “surprisingly clear words” on Ukraine “wouldn’t have been possible if important countries hadn’t helped us to come together this way — that includes India and it also includes, for example, South Africa.” “This is something which shows that there are many in the world who don’t think this war is right, who condemn it, even if they abstained in the votes at the United Nations for various reasons,” Scholz said. “And I am sure that this is one of the results of this summit: the Russian president stands almost alone in the world with his policy.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who led the Russian delegation in place of Putin, denounced the Biden administration push to condemn Moscow. China’s support for a public statement critical of Russia surprised some. Beijing likely did so because Chinese President Xi Jinping “doesn’t want to back a loser” after Russia’s defeat in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, said Kirton, the analyst. “He knows he needs G-20 cooperation to address the many growing vulnerabilities that China now confronts,” from climate change to the pandemic to the nation’s “financial fragility of its over-leveraged housing and property markets.” The G-20 was founded in 1999 originally as a forum to address economic challenges. It includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Spain holds a permanent guest seat. The 16-page statement also expressed deep concern on a range of issues, including food and energy crises made worse by the war in Ukraine. The leaders said that amid food shortages and rising prices they’d take “urgent actions to save lives, prevent hunger and malnutrition, particularly to address the vulnerabilities of developing countries.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope that a vital deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N. to export Ukrainian grain would be extended before it expires Sunday. The July deal allowed major grain producer Ukraine to resume exports from ports that had been largely blocked because of the war. “As of now, I am of the opinion that the (grain agreement) will continue,” Erdogan said. “As soon as we return, we will continue our talks, especially with Mr. Putin. Because the way to peace is through dialogue.” The emergency meeting Wednesday included the leaders of the G-7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union, along with the president of the European Council and the prime ministers of NATO allies Spain and the Netherlands. Biden held a separate meeting later with Sunak, in their first extended conversation since the British leader took office last month. “We’re going to continue to support Ukraine as long as Russia continues their aggression,” Biden said alongside Sunak, adding that he was “glad we’re on the same page” in backing Ukraine. Biden said the leaders condemned the latest Russian attacks, which have caused widespread blackouts. “The moment when the world came together at the G-20 to urge de-escalation, Russia continues to escalate in Ukraine, while we’re meeting,” Biden said.
Dozens of world leaders and other dignitaries are traveling to Bali for the G-20 summit, drawing a welcome spotlight on the revival of the tropical island’s vital tourism sector. Tourism is the main source of income on this idyllic “island of the gods” that is home to more than 4 million people, who are mainly Hindu in the mostly Muslim archipelago nation. So the pandemic hit Bali harder than most places in Indonesia. Read more: Ukraine war, tensions with China loom over big Bali summit Before the pandemic, 6.2 million foreigners arrived in Bali each year. Its lively tourism scene faded after the first case of COVID-19 was found in Indonesia in March 2020, with restaurants and resorts shuttered and many workers returning to villages to try to get by. Foreign tourist arrivals dropped to only 1 million in 2020, mostly in the first few months of the year, and then to a few dozen in 2021, according to government data. More than 92,000 people employed in tourism lost their jobs and the average occupancy rate of Bali hotels fell below 20%. The island’s economy contracted 9.3% in 2020 from the year before and again contracted nearly 2.5% year-on-year in 2021. “The coronavirus outbreak has hammered the local economy horribly,” said Dewa Made Indra, regional secretary of Bali province. “Bali is the region with the most severe economic contraction.” After closing to all visitors early in the pandemic, Bali reopened to Indonesians from other parts of the country in mid-2020. That helped, but then a surge of cases in July 2021 again emptied the island’s normally bustling beaches and streets. Authorities restricted public activities, closed the airport and shuttered all shops, bars, sit-down restaurants, tourist attractions and many other places on the island. Monkeys deprived of their preferred food source — bananas, peanuts and other goodies given to them by tourists — took to raiding villagers’ homes in their search for something tasty. The island reopened to domestic travelers a month later, in August, but in all of 2021 only 51 foreign tourists visited. Things are looking much better now. Shops and restaurants in places like Nusa Dua, a resort area where the G-20 meeting is being held, and in other towns like Sanur and Kuta have reopened, though business is slow and many businesses and hotels are still closed or have scaled back operations. Read more: US supports India for G20 presidency The reopening of Bali's airport to international flights and now the thousands coming for the G-20 summit and other related events have raised hopes for a stronger turnaround, Dewa said. More than 1.5 million foreign tourists and 3.1 domestic travelers had visited Bali as of October this year. Embracing a push toward more sustainable models of tourism, Bali has rolled out a digital nomad visa scheme, called the “second home visa" and due to take effect in December. It's also among 20 destinations Airbnb recently announced it was partnering with for remote work, also including places in the Caribbean and the Canary Islands. The recovery will likely take time, even if COVID-19 is kept at bay. Gede Wirata, who had to lay off most of the 4,000 people working in his hotels, restaurants, clubs and a cruise ship during the worst of the pandemic, found that when it came time to rehire them many had found jobs overseas or in other travel businesses. The G-20 is a welcome boost. “This is an opportunity for us to rise again from the collapse," he said. There's a way to go. Read more: Putin won’t be at G20 summit, avoiding possible confrontation with US “The situation has not yet fully recovered, but whatever the case, life has to go on,” said Wayan Willy, who runs a tourist agency in Bali with some friends. Before the pandemic, most of their clients were from overseas. Now it's mostly domestic tourists. But even those are few and far between. Bali has suffered greatly in the past. At times, the island's majestic volcanos have rumbled to life, at times erupting or belching ash. The dark cloud of the suicide bombings in Bali's beach town of Kuta that killed 202 mostly foreign tourists in 2002 lingered for years, devastating tourism on the island usually known for its peace and tranquility. Recent torrential rains brought floods and landslides in some areas, adding to the burdens for communities working to rebuild their tourism businesses. When the situation started to improve, Yuliani Djajanegara, who runs a business making traditional beauty items like massage oils, natural soaps and aromatherapy products under the brand name Bali Tangi, got back to work. She had closed her factory in 2020 when orders from hotels, spas and salons in the U.S., Europe, Russia and the Maldives dried up, taking orders for her products from more than 1,000 kilograms (1 ton) to almost nothing. So far, Djajanegara has rehired 15 of the 60 workers she had been obliged to lay off during the dark days of the pandemic. She's hopeful, but cautious. “Tourism in Bali is like a sand castle," Djajanegara said. “It is beautiful, but it can be washed away by the waves.”
A showdown between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin isn’t happening, but fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing tensions between China and the West will be at the fore when leaders of the world’s biggest economies gather in tropical Bali this week. The Group of 20 members begin talks on the Indonesian resort island Tuesday under the hopeful theme of “recover together, recover stronger.” While Putin is staying away, Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and get to know new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni. The summit’s official priorities of health, sustainable energy and digital transformation are likely to be overshadowed by fears of a sputtering global economy and geopolitical tensions centered on the war in Ukraine. The nearly 9-month-old conflict has disrupted trade in oil, natural gas and grain, and shifted much of the summit's focus to food and energy security. The U.S. and allies in Europe and Asia, meanwhile, increasingly are squaring off against a more assertive China, leaving emerging G-20 economies like India, Brazil and host Indonesia to walk a tightrope between bigger powers. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has tried to bridge rifts within the G-20 over the war in Ukraine. Widodo, also known as Jokowi, became the first Asian leader since the invasion to visit both Russia and Ukraine in the summer. He invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, not a G-20 member, to join the summit. Zelenskyy is expected to participate online. Read more: US supports India for G20 presidency “One of the priorities for Jokowi is to ease the tension of war and geopolitical risk,” said Bhima Yudhistira, director of the Center of Economic and Law Studies in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Last year’s G-20 summit in Rome was the first in-person gathering of members since the pandemic, though the leaders of Russia and China didn’t attend. This year’s event is bracketed by the United Nations climate conference in Egypt and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia, which Biden and some other G-20 leaders are attending, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Thailand right afterward. The American president vowed to work with Southeast Asian nations on Saturday, saying “we’re going to build a better future that we all want to see” in a region where China is working to grow its influence. On Sunday, Biden huddled with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to discuss China and the threat from North Korea. One question hanging over the Bali summit is whether Russia will agree to extend the U.N. Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is up for renewal Nov. 19. The July deal allowed major global grain producer Ukraine to resume exports from ports that had been largely blocked for months because of the war. Russia briefly pulled out of the deal late last month only to rejoin it days later. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday called for more pressure on Russia to extend the deal, saying Moscow must "stop playing hunger games with the world.” As leaders contend with conflicts and geopolitical tensions, they face the risk that efforts to tame inflation will extinguish post-pandemic recoveries or cause debilitating financial crises. The war’s repercussions are being felt from the remotest villages of Asia and Africa to the most modern industries. It has amplified disruptions to energy supplies, shipping and food security, pushing prices sharply higher and complicating efforts to stabilize the world economy after the upheavals of the pandemic. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging the G-20 to provide financial help for the developing world. "My priority in Bali will be to speak up for countries in the Global South that have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, and now face crises in food, energy and finance — exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and crushing debt,” Guterres said. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting 2.7% global growth in 2023, while private sector economists’ estimates are as low as 1.5%, down from about 3% this year, the slowest growth since the oil crisis of the early 1980s. China has remained somewhat insulated from soaring inflation, mainly because it is struggling to reverse an economic slump that is weighing on global growth. Read more: Putin won’t be at G20 summit, avoiding possible confrontation with US The Chinese economy, the world’s second largest, grew at a 3.9% pace in the latest quarter. But economists say activity is slowing under the pressure of pandemic controls, a crackdown on technology companies and a downturn in the real estate sector. Forecasters have cut estimates of China’s annual economic growth to as low as 3%. That would be less than half of last year’s 8.1% and the second lowest in decades. Chinese President Xi will be coming to the summit emboldened by his appointment to an unusual third term as party chairman, making him China’s strongest leader in decades. It's only his second foreign trip since early 2020, following a visit to Central Asia where he met Putin in September. Biden and Xi will hold their first in-person meeting since Biden became president in January 2021 on the event’s sidelines Monday. The U.S. is at odds with China over a host of issues, including human rights, technology and the future of the self-ruled island of Taiwan. The U.S. sees China as its biggest global competitor, and that rivalry is only likely to grow as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in the years to come. The European Union is also reassessing its relationship with China as it seeks to reduce its trade dependency on the country. Biden said he plans to talk with Xi about topics including Taiwan, trade policies and Beijing’s relationship with Russia. “What I want to do ... is lay out what each of our red lines are,” Biden said last week. Many developing economies are caught between fighting inflation and trying to nurse along recoveries from the pandemic. Host Indonesia’s economy grew at a 5.7% pace in the last quarter, one of the fastest among G-20 nations. But growth among resource exporters like Indonesia is forecast to cool as falling prices for oil, coal and other commodities end windfalls from the past year’s price boom. At a time when many countries are struggling to afford imports of oil, gas and food while also meeting debt repayments, pressure is building on those most vulnerable to climate change to double down on shifting to more sustainable energy supplies. In Bali, the talks are also expected to focus on finding ways to hasten the transition away from coal and other fossil fuels. The G-20 was founded in 1999 originally as a forum to address economic challenges. It includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Spain holds a permanent guest seat. Some observers of the bloc, like Josh Lipsky, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center, question whether the G-20 can even function as geopolitical rifts grow. “I’m skeptical that it can survive long-term in its current format,” he said in a briefing last week. That makes things especially tough on host Indonesia. “This is not the G-20 they signed up for,” Lipsky said. “The last thing they wanted was to be in the middle of this geopolitical fight, this war in Europe, and be the crossroads of it. But that’s where they are.”
President Joe Biden wrapped up his time at the Group of 20 summit on Sunday trying to convince Americans and the wider world that he’s got things under control — and taking Russia, China and Saudi Arabia to task for not doing enough to deal with the existential threat of climate change. Biden’s overall take on his efforts: On climate change, he’s got $900 billion planned for renewable energy, and Congress will vote this coming week. On supply chains, he has plans to make the ports run better and tamp down inflation. For workers, he’s building an economy with pay raises. On diplomacy, world leaders trust him. But he also acknowledged what he can’t yet achieve: bringing Russia, China and Saudi Arabia to the table with the broader international community to limit carbon emissions and move to renewable energy. In a news conference Sunday, the U.S. president spelled out his belief that all politics is personal and that what progress was achieved at the Rome summit came from direct interactions with other leaders. Read:PM Hasina off to Europe to join COP26, other events “They know me. I know them,” Biden said of his fellow G-20 leaders. “We get things done together.” “We’ve made significant progress and more has to be done,” Biden added. “But it’s going to require us to continue to focus on what Russia’s not doing, what China’s not doing, what Saudi Arabia’s not doing.” For all the challenges confronting him, the president attempted to stay optimistic. As Biden departed the news conference, he offered a thumbs up when asked if West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — key Democratic votes — were on board with his $1.75 trillion spending package for families, health care and renewable energy. The president also shrugged off his recent decline in the polls, saying that numbers go up and down. As for the potential significance of Biden’s thumbs-up on congressional negotiations, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, said, “As the President said during the press conference, he is confident we are going to get this done and the thumbs up was simply a visual restatement of that.” Read: PM’s France visit to elevate Dhaka-Paris ties: FM But the policy issues also seemed to fade for Biden when asked about his time Friday with Pope Francis. The president became deeply emotional, his hands appearing to fiddle with the mask he wore as a precaution because of COVID-19. He spoke of how the pope comforted the Biden family in a Philadelphia airport hangar after the death of his son, Beau, in 2015. “When I won, (Pope Francis) called me to tell me how much he appreciated the fact that I would focus on the poor. focus on the needs of people who are in trouble,” Biden said. “He is everything I learned about Catholicism from the time I was a kid going from grade school to high school.” The president did leave the G-20 with commitments by his fellow leaders on a global minimum tax that would make it harder for large companies to avoid taxes by assigning their profits to countries with low tax rates. He announced new funding to improve ports and shipping, in addition to a conference next year on supply chains. He patched up differences with the European Union on tariffs and differences with France on the sale of a nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. The president met Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose office said the meeting was held in a “positive atmosphere” despite tensions over human rights and Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile system, among other issues. Biden heads Monday to the U.N. climate summit in Scotland, where he’ll once again face questions about whether the world’s wealthiest are doing enough to stop the warming of the Earth by moving away from fossil fuels. The president on Sunday dismissed the contradiction that he’s fighting for climate change while also asking oil-rich countries to increase their production in order to lower gasoline prices for U.S. commuters. “The idea that we’re not going to need gasoline for automobiles is just not realistic,” Biden said. “It has a profound impact on working-class families, just to get back and forth to work. So I don’t see anything inconsistent with that.”
Leaders of the world’s biggest economies made a compromise commitment Sunday to reach carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century” as they wrapped up a two-day summit that was laying the groundwork for the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. According to the final communique, the Group of 20 leaders also agreed to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad, but set no target for phasing out coal domestically — a clear nod to coal-dependent countries including China and India and a blow to Britain which had hoped for more solid commitments ahead of the Glasgow meeting. The Group of 20 countries represent more than three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and summit host Italy had been looking for solid targets on how to reduce emissions while helping poor countries deal with the impact of rising temperatures. Without them, momentum could be lost for the larger annual talks that officially opened Sunday in Glasgow and where countries from around the globe will be represented, including poor ones most vulnerable to rising seas, desertification and other effects. Italian Premier Mario Draghi told the leaders going into the final working session Sunday that they needed both to set long-term goals and make short-term changes to reach them. Read: G20 leaders to tackle energy prices, other economic woes “We must accelerate the phasing-out of coal and invest more in renewable energy,” he said. “We also need to make sure that we use available resources wisely, which means that we should become able to adapt our technologies and also our lifestyles to this new world.” According to the communique, the G-20 reaffirmed past commitments by rich countries to mobilize $100 billion annually to help poorer countries cope with climate change, and committed to scaling up financing for helping them adapt. The sticking point remained the deadline to reach carbon neutrality or “net zero” emissions, meaning a balance between greenhouse gases added to and removed from the atmosphere. Going into the summit Italy had all-but conceded it would only be able to secure commitments to reach net-zero emissions “by mid-century,” rather than a specific year. According to the final communique, the G-20 leaders said they will “accelerate our actions across mitigation, adaptation and finance, acknowledging the key relevance of achieving global net zero greenhouse gas emissions or carbon neutrality by or around mid-century.” A French official said “mid-century” meant 2050 in the strict sense “but given the diversity of the G-20 countries ... it means everyone agrees to a common goal while providing a bit of flexibility to take into account national diversity.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, the French official cited top carbon polluters China and India, as well as Indonesia. Some countries have set 2050 as their deadline for net zero emissions, while China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are aiming for 2060. The future of coal, a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been one of the hardest things for the G-20 to agree on. At the Rome summit, leaders agreed to “put an end to the provision of international public finance for new unabated coal power generation abroad by the end of 2021.” That refers to financial support for building coal plants abroad, something Western countries have been moving away from and major Asian economies are now doing the same: Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the U.N. General Assembly last month that Beijing would stop funding such projects, and Japan and South Korea made similar commitments earlier in the year. The failure of the G-20 to set a target for phasing out domestic coal use was a blow to Britain, which had hoping there would be progress on the issue at COP26. The spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Max Blain, said the G-20 communique “was never meant to be the main lever in order to secure commitments on climate change,” which would be hammered out at the Glasgow summit. He said the U.K. would continue to push for “ambitious commitments” on coal. Youth climate activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate issued an open letter to the media as the G-20 was wrapping up, stressing three fundamental aspects of the climate crisis that often are downplayed: that time is running out, that any solution must provide justice to the people most affected by climate change, and that the biggest polluters often hide behind incomplete statistics about their true emissions. Read: No pathway to reach the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C goal without the G20: UN chief “The climate crisis is only going to become more urgent. We can still avoid the worst consequences, we can still turn this around. But not if we continue like today,” they wrote, just weeks after Thunberg shamed global leaders for their “blah blah blah” rhetoric during a youth climate summit in Milan. Britain’s Prince Charles addressed the G-20 Sunday morning and urged leaders to listen to young people who are inheriting the warming Earth, warning that “it is quite literally the last-chance saloon.” Charles, a longtime environmental activist, said public-private partnerships were the only way to achieve the trillions of dollars in annual investment needed to transition to clean, sustainable energy sources that will mitigate the warming of global temperatures. “It is impossible not to hear the despairing voices of young people who see you as the stewards of the planet, holding the viability of their future in your hands,” Charles said.
Leaders of the Group of 20 countries gathering for their first in-person summit since the pandemic took hold will confront a global recovery hampered by a series of stumbling blocks: an energy crunch spurring higher fuel and utility prices, new COVID-19 outbreaks and logjams in the supply chains that keep the economy humming and goods headed to consumers. The summit will allow leaders representing 80% of the global economy to talk — and apply peer pressure — on all those issues. Analysts question how much progress they can make to ease the burden right away on people facing rising prices on everything from food and furniture to higher heating bills heading into winter. Health and financial officials are sitting down in Rome on Friday before presidents and prime ministers gather for the G-20 Saturday and Sunday, but the leaders of major economic players China and Russia won’t be there in person. That may not bode well for cooperation, especially on energy issues as climate change takes center stage just before the U.N. Climate Change Conference begins Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. Here’s a look at some of the economic issues facing G-20 leaders: THE PANDEMIC RECOVERY The International Monetary Fund says the top priority for the economic recovery is simple: speed up the vaccination of the world population. Yet big headlines on vaccine cooperation may not be forthcoming at the Rome summit. The G-20 countries have supported vaccine-sharing through the U.N.-backed COVAX program, which has failed to alleviate dire shortages in poor countries. Donated doses are coming in at a fraction of what is needed, and developed countries are focused on booster shots for their own populations. Negotiations before the summit have not focused on a large number of vaccines that could be made available, though countries talked about strengthening health systems. Meanwhile, rising consumer prices and government stimulus programs to help economies bounce back from the pandemic may be discussed, but central banks tend to deal with higher prices and stimulus spending is decided at the national level. Read: No pathway to reach the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C goal without the G20: UN chief GLOBAL TAXES One major economic deal is already done: The G-20 will likely be a celebration of an agreement on a global minimum corporate tax, aimed at preventing multinational companies from stashing profits in countries where they pay little or no taxes. All G-20 governments signed on to the deal negotiated among more than 130 countries, and it now faces an ambitious timeline to get approved and enacted through 2023. U.S. President Joe Biden has tied his domestic agenda to it — creating a global minimum tax can allow the United States to charge higher taxes without the risk of companies shifting their profits to tax havens. U.S. adoption is key because so many multinational companies are headquartered there. The agreement also helps remove trade tensions between the U.S. and Europe. It allows nations including France, Italy and Spain to back off digital services taxes that targeted U.S. tech companies Google, Facebook and Amazon. Biden goes to the G-20 with his tax and economic agenda still subject to congressional negotiations. That means he will be unable to show that the U.S. is leading on global corporate taxes, though his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said G-20 leaders understand the nature of congressional talks. “They’ll say, ‘Is President Biden on track to deliver on what he said he’s going to deliver?’ And we believe one way or the other, he will be on track to do that,” Sullivan said. HIGH ENERGY PRICES The summit offers an opportunity for dialogue on high oil and gas prices because it includes delegations from major energy producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, major consumers in Europe and China, and the U.S., which is both. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to participate remotely. “Perhaps the most important thing the G20 could do is to tell those among them that are major energy suppliers that they should think about their future,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank. If energy prices are too high in the developed world, it will only speed up the move away from fossil fuels, “which is ultimately, in the long run, bad for the suppliers,” he said. The White House says Biden intends to engage with other key leaders about energy prices, with oil recently hitting a seven-year high in the U.S. at over $84 per barrel and the international Brent crude benchmark reaching a three-year peak at over $86. “We are definitely in an energy crisis, there is no other way to put it,” said Claudio Galimberti, senior vice president of analysis at Rystad Energy and an expert in oil market demand. But he said it’s unlikely the G-20 “can take any decision that has immediate impact.” So far, Saudi-led OPEC and allies including Russia, dubbed OPEC+, have ignored Biden’s pleas to increase production faster than its pace of 400,000 barrels per day each month into next year. In one bright spot, Russian President Vladimir Putin told state-controlled company Gazprom to pump more gas into storage facilities in Europe, where prices have quintupled this year and fears have spread about winter shortages. But producing nations “are in a powerful position,” Galimberti said. “There is no one who can put pressure on OPEC+.” Read:G20 leadership vital in defense against COVID-19: UN chief SUPPLY CHAINS Biden will press for countries to share more information about troubles with supply chains that have slowed growth in the developed world. Port and factory closures, shortages of shipping containers and rising demand have contributed to backlogs at ports and delays for deliveries of everything from bicycles to computer chips used in smartphones and cars. Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said the president would push for more transparency about identifying logjams with other governments: “How do we know, at every level, where there may be bottlenecks or breaks in the supply chain so that we can quickly respond to them?” Trade expert Chad P. Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, agreed that sharing information can be helpful but said “there’s very little anyone can do” now about the backups over a lack of shipping containers. Longer term, leaders can discuss efforts to diversify supply of key goods such as masks, other medical protective equipment and semiconductors. “There is a call to diversify some production of semiconductors geographically” away from Asia, Bown said. The U.S. and the European Union are talking about finding ways to incentivize chip production at home without starting a subsidy war — for instance, by agreeing on which sectors of the semiconductor industry each side would seek to attract.
The Group of 20 summit opened on Saturday with appeals by the world’s most powerful leaders to collectively chart a way forward as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year’s gathering, transforming it from in-person meetings to a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations.