Australia and South Korea on Sunday called for meetings of leaders and finance chiefs from the world’s top industrial and emerging nations as the coronavirus outbreak triggers panic on global markets.
According to Bloomberg, the moves suggest a new urgency among government leaders to tackle the spreading virus that threatens to tip the world economy into its first recession since the financial crisis in 2008.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he supported a proposal by Indian PM Narendra Modi to organize a link-up between G-20 leaders. He also held a call with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson and both agreed that finance chiefs need to meet too.
“The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) and I agreed last night that an even more urgent meeting that would be needed would be a further meeting of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
Citing market volatility, Morrison said the G-20 should coordinate actions similar to ones rolled out during the global financial crisis.
In a related matter, South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed to US President Donald Trump to hold a G-20 teleconference summit to discuss how Seoul was combating the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a statement from Moon’s office.
At the proposed meeting, South Korea plans to share information on its “experience on tackling” the nationwide spread of the novel coronavirus, results on clinical tests, as well as discussing response measures of the outbreak on the global economy, according to the statement.
Saudi Arabia, which currently chairs the G20 group, confirmed taking precautionary measures during meetings scheduled to be held this March to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Riyadh announced it intends to postpone a number of meetings and hold others through teleconference, while it will continue to assess the situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Saudi G20 presidency will continue to convene, foster, support and coordinate international efforts to counter the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in human and economic terms, said the statement.
The statement indicated that the G20 presidency has taken necessary precautionary measures for all meetings through to the end of March whilst ensuring important discussions continue to take place and efforts are focused on the global response to COVID-19.
“The G20 is implementing new arrangements for scheduled meetings through to the end of March. Some meetings will be postponed, and some will be held virtually.”
The G20 announced that it is working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Saudi Ministry of Health given the rapidly changing circumstances around COVID-19, including elevated travel restrictions, and will continue to evaluate the status of meetings.
On Friday, G20’s Sherpas discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on people and the global economy during their second meeting in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. “We are deeply saddened by the human tragedy caused by the spread of COVID-19 and stand in solidarity with all affected countries,” they said in a statement.
The statement read that G20 countries will enhance cooperation and coordination to control the outbreak, protect people, mitigate the economic impact, and maintain economic stability, while avoiding stigmatization.