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Coronavirus: Variants threaten economic recovery, G20 warns

Photo from G20

G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors concluded their meeting in Venice on Saturday with a warning against “downside risks” for global economic recovery due to “the spread of new variants of the COVID-19 virus and different paces of vaccination.”

While the global outlook has improved in recent months, “mainly due to the rollout of vaccines and continued policy support,” the crisis is not yet over, the G20 (Group of 20) finance officials warned in the final communique of their meeting.

They noted that the highly contagious Delta variant of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to hamper the resumption of activities worldwide, causing epidemic surges in parts of Asia and Africa, and spikes in infection numbers in Europe and the United States.

The financial decision-makers reiterated their intention to “continue to sustain the recovery, avoiding any premature withdrawal of support measures.”

However, amid growing concern over increased inflation, they noted that such support would be continued, “while remaining consistent with central bank mandates – including on price stability.”

They also stated their commitment to “preserving financial stability and safeguarding long-term fiscal sustainability” – a reference to recovery measures that have taken a toll on public finances.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, G20 members – 19 countries and the EU – have spent about 16,000 billion dollars to relaunch their economies, according to the International Monetary Fund.

However, “the recovery is characterized by great divergences across and within countries” due to different paces of vaccination, the finance officials noted.

They reaffirmed their “resolve to use all available policy tools for as long as required to address the adverse consequences of COVID-19, especially on the most impacted, such as women, youth, informal and low-skilled workers.”

The Brussels Times