G20 leaders pledge to fund fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in draft statement - ABC News

 proxy.yoo.workers.dev  11/22/2020 01:43:22 

Leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, say they will pledge to pay for a fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world so poorer countries are not left out, a draft G20 communique shows.

  • Berlin said the goal was to distribute 2 billion doses by the end of 2021
  • The G20 members also said they would pursue a way to tax international tech giants
  • Another round of talks will begin later tonight

The European Union has called for $4.5 billion by the end of the year from the G20 to pay for COVID-19-fighting tools for poorer countries.

Absent from the discussion was US President Donald Trump, who departed the virtual summit to head for a Virginia golf course as vaccine discussions were underway.

"We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members' commitments to incentivise innovation," the leaders said in the draft G20 statement.

"We recognize the role of extensive immunisation as a global public good."

Vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer could be approved within a matter of weeks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the goal was to distribute 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, but more funding was needed.

French President Emmanuel Macron said now was the time for the G20 to prove its worth.

"Are we going to be ready once the vaccine is on the market to guarantee its universal access and to avoid at all cost a 'two-speed' world where only the rich will be able to protect themselves?" he asked.

He said the G20 represented 90 per cent of the global economy.

"We have, in our territories, all the industries capable to produce the necessary health technologies against COVID-19," he said.

Saudi King Salman gives his opening remarks via video as he sits at large tables with a few other men.
Saudi Arabia hosted the G20 over video conference amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.(AP)

The draft also calls on private creditors to join the debt servicing moratorium, which the G20 wants to extend until the middle of 2021 and possibly longer, and endorses a common framework for dealing with debt issues beyond that.

The leaders said the global economy was starting to pick up but the recovery remained "uneven, highly uncertain and subject to elevated downside risks".

The leaders also recognised the specific challenges faced by countries in Africa and small island developing states, reflecting growing recognition that even some middle-income countries may need debt relief as a result of the pandemic.

Keen to be better prepared for any potential next pandemic that might come, G20 leaders also said they would commit "to advancing global pandemic preparedness, prevention, detection, and response" and "to the continued sharing of timely, transparent, and standardised data and information".

Trump skips session on vaccines

President Donald Trump waves as he plays golf.
US President Donald Trump skipped talks on COVID-19 vaccines to play golf.(AP: Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Mr Trump sat through a welcome speech from Saudi Arabia's King Salman, but appeared to be looking down at his desk when he was briefly seen on camera.

Moments later, he was tweeting.

"Massive voter fraud will be shown," he tweeted.

The President later departed for a Virginia golf course, skipping the session on COVID-19 vaccines.

There had been questions as to whether Mr Trump would log into the virtual summit at all, considering he is pre-occupied with disputing Joe Biden's election victory, despite no evidence of voter fraud being uncovered.

But the White House yesterday confirmed he would take part.

Another round of talks will begin later tonight, in what will likely be Mr Trump's last major leaders summit.

A screen shows some participants of the virtual G20 meeting, hosted by Saudi Arabia.
This year's G20 summit was held virtually due to COVID-19 travel and safety measures.(AP: Yves Herman)

As Democrat Mr Biden  an avowed multilateralist  prepares to replace Mr Trump as US president in two months, the G20 statement struck a bolder tone on international trade, climate change and the role of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mr Trump, who favoured bilateral deals, has reduced support for multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization, and this year threatened to quit the WHO unless it was reformed.

His administration had also previously blocked mentions of climate change in G20 communiques.

"We strive to realise the goal of a free, fair, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable, and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open."

The G20 members also said they would pursue a way to fairly tax international tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft.

European Council President Charles Michel sits alone at a large desk in front of a screen of G20 participants.
European Council President Charles Michel spoke to participants on screen from the European Council building in Brussels.(AP: Yves Herman)

The companies have benefited greatly from the shift to tele-working forced upon the world economy by the pandemic, and European countries have long been pushing to tax them where they make their profits, rather than where they establish their subsidiaries for tax optimisation purposes.

But the initiative has so far been stalled by the Trump administration.

The imminent change of guard in the White House also seemed to unblock bolder G20 language on climate change.

"Preventing environmental degradation, conserving, sustainably using and restoring biodiversity, preserving our oceans, promoting clean air and clean water, responding to natural disasters and extreme weather events, and tackling climate change are among the most pressing challenges of our time," the G20 draft statement said.

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