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G20 leaders say they are committed to protecting lives

Leaders of world's major economies, who convened via video conference, agree to tackle its health, social and economic impacts

BEIJING: G20 leaders said they were committed to protecting lives, safeguarding jobs and income affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

They were also committed to presenting a united front against the coronavirus pandemic, calling it their "absolute priority" to tackle its health, social and economic impacts.

During a video conference, the leaders of the world's major economies pledged to restore confidence, preserve financial stability and revive growth.

They were also committed to resolving disruptions to global supply chains and asked finance ministers and central bank governors to coordinate with international organisations to develop an action plan in response to the pandemic.

The statement also said they would task health ministers to meet as needed to share best practices and develop a set of urgent actions by their ministerial meeting in April.

The G20 leaders also agreed to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, and strengthen international cooperation in science.

They also pledge to ensure the cross-border flow of vital medical supplies, agricultural products and other goods and services.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told the conference countries should join forces in implementing macroeconomic policies to stop the world from entering a recession from that coronavirus outbreak that has hit global production and demand.

The stability of the global industrial supply chain must be maintained, Mr Xi said, according to state media.

Mr Xi also urged China's fellow G20 member nations to cut tariffs, remove barriers and facilitate trade, Chinese state media reported.

China will step up imports and increase foreign investment, while continuing to implement a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, Mr Xi said.

The International Monetary Fund yesterday asked G20 leaders to back a doubling of its emergency financing capacity to strengthen its response to the pandemic.

SPEED OF RECOVERY

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, in a statement to G20 leaders, said the depth of the economic contraction and the speed of the recovery depended on containment of the pandemic and "how strong and coordinated our monetary and fiscal policy actions are".

She said it was paramount to support emerging markets and developing economies, which were hard hit by the crisis, with economic activity stopping, capital flight and, for some, sharp drops in commodity prices.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman called yesterday for G20 leaders to boost funding for a coronavirus vaccine, resume the normal flow of goods and services as soon as possible, and help developing countries overcome the global health crisis. - REUTERS

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