An Extraordinary Virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region, on March 26, 2020. Taking part in the virtual summit on the Russian side were Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the G20 (Russia’s G20 Sherpa) Svetlana Lukash. The following are excerpts from the speech of Finance Minister Siluanov.—Ed.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Majesty, colleagues,
It appears to me that the current problems caused by the new coronavirus pandemic will result in far greater shocks than the financial crisis of 2008–2009, and the trade conflicts and sanctions are worsening the recession.
From our point of view, the key risk lies in long-term unemployment which, regardless of the future scenario, will peak much higher than in 2009. Unemployment dynamics will also serve as a key efficiency indicator for our anti-crisis measures.
The current crisis will inevitably take its toll on global development, and for the long term. Therefore, certainly, we cannot afford to act with an every-man-for-himself approach, our colleagues have said a lot about it already. I absolutely agree with that.
I will start with the top-priority tasks in healthcare.
First. As has been said, of course it is necessary to continue a regular exchange of credible information about the pandemic’s progress in our countries and about the actions being taken. It was also brought up that it is necessary to provide aid to the African countries. I believe that overall today, the World Health Organisation should channel its efforts to detecting hidden coronavirus epidemics in the countries that are not able to organise testing. Also, joint research by our countries could significantly expedite the development of vaccines and medications.
Now, a few words about the economy. The Russian Government is allocating 1.2 percent of Russia’s GDP to fight this crisis. Russia’s Central Bank is providing approximately the same amount of support. But all of us, the Group of 20, need a common action plan to stabilise the situation, support our economies and restore trust across global markets.
Of course, national budgets should play a key role in increasing global demand. However, due to the high volatility of global markets that we see every day, borrowing options are limited for many countries – and we must also take this into account.
The situation is getting complicated. In this respect, it is very important, it is extremely important now to ensure access to financing for countries that are suffering from resource shortages, I mean especially countries that have been affected by the crisis and pandemic. In this regard, we could consider creating a special fund under the auspices of the IMF, financed primarily by the central banks that issue currencies included in the IMF basket, and then granting the right to any IMF member to borrow money from this fund in proportion to his share in the world economy at a zero rate for the long term.
A lot has also been said about the need to ensure supply chains. This is certainly important. But it is equally important to create so-called green corridors
for the duration of the crisis, free from trade wars and sanctions, for the mutual supply of medicines, food, equipment and technology.
Ideally, we should impose a moratorium, a joint moratorium on restrictions on essentials, as well as on financial transactions for their procurement. And first of all, I am talking about countries that are suffering the most from this pandemic. In the end, this is a question of life and death of people, it is a purely humanitarian issue. We need to cleanse these issues from all kinds of political husk.
When keeping the G20’s traditional cooperation between the ministries of finance, the central banks and Sherpas, we could strengthen our cooperation at the economic adviser level during this crisis. They have direct access to state leaders and can make decisions urgently, informally and quickly.
And in conclusion, I would like to say a few words about global international organisations. Obviously, they lack mechanisms for automatic stabilisation in the event of a crisis. And so, it is necessary to efficiently and as quickly as possible, work through and resolve all the issues related to their reorganisation.