Leaders of the world’s Group of 20 (G20) wealthiest nations concluded a two-day summit on the Indonesian island of Bali on Wednesday deploring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine “in the strongest terms”, among other highlights.
Here are key takeaways from the meeting:
CONDEMNING RUSSIAN AGGRESSION
Meetings of G20 ministers earlier this year ended without joint declarations because of Russian opposition to references to the war in Ukraine. This week, leaders adopted a declaration deploring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine “in the strongest terms” and demanding its unconditional withdrawal. They also recognised that while most members condemned the war in Ukraine, “there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”.
Participants said the statement was unanimously adopted. The summit’s host, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, said all had shown “flexibility”.
“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy – constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks,” the leaders’ declaration said.
They also denounced any threat of the use of nuclear weapons, an implicit rebuke of Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who headed the Russian delegation to the summit in the absence of President Vladimir Putin, condemned “politicisation” of the meeting.
U.S.-CHINA TIES ON BETTER FOOTING
The summit was preceded by a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the first time the two had met since Biden became president.
Although there were few tangible results, it was overall a positive meeting after relations between the superpowers plunged to near historic lows earlier in the year.
Both sides said while the three-hour meeting laid out major differences, especially over Taiwan, trade restrictions and technology transfers, the two agreed to keep communications open and avoid confrontation.
Perhaps the most concrete outcome was that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken now plans to visit to China early next year, the highest-level U.S. visit to China in more than four years.
FOCUS ON GLOBAL ECONOMY
The G20 economies agreed in their declaration to pace interest rate rises carefully to avoid spillovers and warned of “increased volatility” in currency moves, a sea change from last year’s focus on mending the scars of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reference to spillovers was a nod to emerging economies’ concerns about the potential for huge capital outflows if aggressive U.S. rate increases continue.
With the Ukraine war, as well as massive pandemic-era spending packages blamed for fuelling red-hot inflation, the G20 countries said further fiscal stimulus measures should be “temporary and targeted”.
On debt, they voiced concern about the “deteriorating” situation of some middle-income countries and stressed the importance of all creditors sharing the burden.
The leaders promised to take coordinated action to address food security challenges and applauded the Black Sea grains initiative, but civil society groups criticised what they said was the absence of concrete steps on hunger.
“The G20 is merely repeating old commitments from previous years or noting developments elsewhere, rather than taking on leadership themselves,” said Friederike Roder of the group Global Citizen. “Fifty million people are at the brink of starvation as we speak. There is no time for the G20 to issue calls to action – they are the ones who have to act.”
G20 leaders agreed to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius – confirming they stand by the temperature goal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
That could boost negotiations at the U.N. COP27 climate summit in Egypt, where some negotiators feared the G20 would fail to back the 1.5C goal – potentially thwarting a deal on it among the nearly 200 countries at the U.N. talks.
On the sidelines of the summit, the United States, Japan and partners said they would mobilise $20 billion of public and private finance to help Indonesia shut coal power plants and bring forward the sector’s peak emissions date by seven years to 2030.
Biden and Xi agreed to resume cooperation on climate change.
In just his second visit overseas since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi held bilateral meetings with many U.S. allies, signalling a willingness to mend ties with critics.
Besides the meeting with Biden, Xi held talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.
A meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was cancelled due to scheduling issues, Downing Street said. Xi is set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida later this week.
“It is not decisive but an important step towards trying to reduce disagreements,” Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, said of Xi’s meetings at the gathering.