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G-20 opens with call for more vaccines for poor countries

G-20 opens with call for more vaccines for poor countries


G-20 opens with call for more vaccines for poor countries

ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi made a sharp call to pick up the pace in getting vaccines to poor countries as he opened a conference of the world’s powerhouse economies, calling the gaping global COVID-19 vaccine gap “morally unacceptable.”Draghi, the host of the two-day Group of 20 summit in Rome, said Saturday that only 3% of people in the world’s poorest countries are vaccinated, while 70% in rich countries have had at least one shot.“These differences are morally unacceptable and undermine the global recovery,” said Draghi, an economist and former chief of the European Central Bank.French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to use the summit to press fellow European Union leaders to be more generous in donating vaccines to low-income countries.But advocates of civil society which have held discussions with G-20 officials before the summit were skeptical of the donation approach.The U.N. World Health Organization has backed a goal of 40% global vaccination this year and 70% in 2022. “Without suspension of (vaccine manufacturers’) patents, how will it be possible to reach” that target, Stefania Burbo, of Civil 20, told reporters as world leaders huddled in a Rome convention center a few blocks away on strategy to emerge from the pandemic.Italian sources said many leaders in their discussions Saturday stressed the need to boost transfer of technologies in areas like Africa to be ready for any future health emergencies.Climate change, the pandemic recovery and international taxation were other issues challenging leaders at their first in-person summit since the pandemic took hold in early 2020.The summit is confronting what is tantamount to what has been playing out as two-track global recovery in which rich countries are bouncing back faster.Rich countries have used vaccines and stimulus spending to restart economic activity, leaving the risk that developing countries that account for much of global growth will remain behind due to low vaccinations and financing difficulties.U.N. Secretary General-General Antonio Guterres has underlined that rich countries have spent 28% of annual economic output on pandemic recovery, while the figure is 2% for the poorest nations.Macron has told reporters he expects the G-20 to confirm an additional $100 billion to support Africa’s economies.The money would be provided via the reallocation of part of $650 billion worth of special drawing rights, a foreign exchange tool used to help finance imports issued by the International Monetary Fund. The idea is for countries that don’t need the help to reallocated their special drawing rights to those that do. Participants were to include African Union President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The heads of state of South Africa and Senegal, Cyril Ramaphosa and Macky Sall, will take part via videoconference, the French presidency said.Italy is hoping the G-20 will secure crucial commitments from countries representing 80% of the global economy — and responsible for around the same amount of global carbon emissions — ahead of the U.N. climate conference that begins Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland.Most of the leaders who were in Rome will head to Glasgow as soon as the G-20 ends on Sunday afternoon. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose efforts to reduce emissions are paramount to combatting climate change, were participating remotely in the Rome summit.A recent U.N. environment report concluded that announcements by dozens of countries to aim for “net-zero” emissions by 2050 could, if fully implemented, limit a global temperature rise to 2.2 degrees Celsius (4 F). That’s closer but still above the less stringent target agreed in the Paris climate accord of keeping the temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) compared with pre-industrial times.The G-20, though, will likely be a celebration by participants of one agreement, on a global minimum corporate tax. The G-20 leaders are expected to formally affirm their commitment to establishing a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate by 2023, a measure aimed at preventing multinational companies from stashing profits in countries where they pay few or no taxes.The move has been praised by White House officials as a “game changer” that would create at least $60 billion in new revenue a year in the U.S. – a stream of cash that could help partially pay for a nearly $3 trillion social services and infrastructure package that President Joe Biden is seeking. U.S. adoption is key because so many multinational companies are headquartered there.France, Brazil and South Korea were described as particularly big boosters of the 15% rate.But Civil 20, which represents some 560 organizations from more than 100 countries, were restrained in praise. The 15% rate is “a little more than those (rates) we’d consider fiscal paradises,” said Riccardo Moro.On the sidelines of the official summit, U.S. President Joe Biden was set to meet with the leaders of Britain, France on Germany to map strategy on Iran’s nuclear program. Biden is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and bring Iran back into compliance with the pact that would have kept the Islamic republic at least one year away from the potential to field a nuclear weapon.———Frances D’Emilio contributed to this report.

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