G7 ministers reaffirm close coordination in COVID-19 battle

TAORMINA, ITALY – MAY 26: (L_R) European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and European Commission President Jean -Claude Juncker during the G7 summit on May 26, 2017 in Taormina, Italy. President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May attend a G7 summit for the first time since their elections. Also new to the table is French President Emmanuel Macron. China have been invited to a meeting during the summit for the first time. (Photo by Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

Washington, April 15 (IANS) Finance ministers and central bank governors of Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations on Tuesday reaffirmed their close coordination in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating its impacts.

“The scale of this health crisis is generating unprecedented challenges for the global economy,” the officials said in a joint statement after an online meeting, released by the US Treasury Department, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Ministers and governors reiterated their pledge to do whatever is necessary to restore economic growth and protect jobs, businesses, and the resilience of the financial system,” they said, adding they remain committed to using “all available policy tools” to achieve strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth.

They expressed their support for the measures taken by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group and regional development banks to enhance their toolkits to provide flexible and rapid financing in response to the crisis.

“Ministers and governors call for more and urgent contributions to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust to address critical funding needs,” they said.

Noting that a number of the most vulnerable and poorest countries will face health and economic challenges related to the fallout of COVID-19, the ministers pledged to support multilateral efforts to assist these countries and stand ready to “provide a time-bound suspension on debt service payments due on official bilateral claims for all countries eligible for World Bank concessional financing.”

Consistent with the direction of G7 leaders, the finance ministers and central bank governors also noted that they will continue to “consider further near-term actions” to stabilize the global economy.

The G7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

The joint statement came after the IMF said earlier Tuesday in a report that the global economy is on track to contract “sharply” by 3 per cent in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, much worse than during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Calling it the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said that the cumulative global output loss across 2020 and 2021 is expected to total US $9 trillion.

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