G-20 finance meeting overshadowed by Ukraine war, ends without a communique

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Division over Russia’s war with Ukraine meant a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of 20 leading industrial and developing nations on Saturday ended without the usual communique, though there was incremental progress on issues such as food and energy security.

While countries agreed on most of a briefer chair summary released by host nation Indonesia, which included the need to respond to the food and fuel crisis, disagreement over the root cause prevented them for a second time this year from issuing a communique. The war in Ukraine is “an issue they cannot reconcile yet,” Bloomberg quoted finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati as saying.

As G-20 host this year, Indonesia has sought to bridge divisions between G-20 members over Russia’s invasion, but enmity over the conflict was evident even as the finance ministers and central bank chiefs concurred on other global challenges that have been worsened by the war, news agency AP reported.

All involved agreed the meeting took place “under a very challenging and difficult situation because of the geopolitical tensions,” Indrawati said.

She said delegates had “expressed sympathy that Indonesia has to manage this situation.”

Indrawati and Indonesian central bank governor Perry Warjiyo said Indonesia would later release a G-20 chair’s statement that would include two paragraphs describing areas where the participants failed to agree.

Indrawati outlined a range of areas where the members did agree, including the need to improve food security, to support the creation of a funding mechanism for pandemic preparedness, prevention and responses, on working toward a global tax agreement and on facilitating financing of transitions toward cleaner energy to cope with climate change.

“The progress is more than expected,” Warjiyo said.

With inflation running at four-decade highs — US consumer prices were up 9.1 per cent in June — Warjiyo said participants were “strongly committed to achieving price stability.”

“There is a commitment among the G-20 to well calibrated macro economic policy to address inflation and slowing growth,” he said.

The meetings in Bali follow a gathering of G-20 foreign ministers earlier this month that also failed to find common ground over Russia’s war in Ukraine and its global impacts.

During the talks that began Friday, US treasury secretary Janet Yellen condemned Moscow for “innocent lives lost and the ongoing human and economic toll that the war is causing around the world.”

“Russia is solely responsible for negative spillovers to the global economy, particularly higher commodity prices,” she said.

Canadian finance minister Chrystia Freeland likened the attendance of Russian officials at the meetings to having “an arsonist joining firefighters”. War is waged by economic technocrats, as well as generals, she said in a post on Twitter.

Russian officials reportedly blamed Western sanctions over the war for worsening inflation and food crises.

Indrawati said the closed-door G-20 talks did not include discussion of proposals for a price cap on Russian oil — one of Yellen’s key objectives as the US and allies seek to curb Moscow’s ability to finance its war.

Such discussions would have occurred on the sidelines of the meeting, she said.

Caught in the middle as host, Indonesia has urged officials from all sides to overcome mistrust for the sake of a planet confronting multiple challenges.

“The world needs even more and more collaboration. no matter what country … they cannot solve this problem alone. food security, energy, climate change, pandemic … all are interconnected,” Indrawati said.

(With inputs from agencies)


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