G20 Finance Ministers Meet in Venice on Global COVID Response

Nearly 270 groups Call on G20 to Curb Tax Avoidance, Support Debt Relief and COVID Healthcare

G20 finance ministers begin two-day meetings in Italy on Friday on COVID response, economic recovery, vaccines, debt relief and global tax agreements. More than 265 groups signed a letter organized by Jubilee USA urging the G20 to act on debt relief, aid and COVID healthcare for developing countries.

“The G20 must do more to ensure global vaccine distribution,“ said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “While the G20 is making progress on a number of COVID response issues, we are concerned by the lack of progress on global vaccine distribution. If we don't do more to get vaccines to the developing world we will struggle with prolonged economic crisis and more virus mutations.”

President Biden called for vaccine patents to be temporarily waived in the face of the crisis and the IMF reports that without worldwide vaccine distribution by year-end, the global economy risks losing $9 trillion dollars.

In a report prepared for the G20 meeting, the IMF warns about the risk of rising US interest rates that could increase already high levels of debt in many countries. Up to 73 countries can seek relief under a G20 process to cut debt, known as the “Common Framework.”

“The G20 needs to follow the strong calls from the White House and Treasury for the private sector to provide significant debt relief,” shared LeCompte. “Because developing middle-income countries will see debts skyrocket if US interest rates rise, it's another reason to extend the G20's debt relief process to these countries."

A global corporate tax agreement is being forged during the meetings. In June, the G7 reached a deal on a minimum rate of at least 15% and new methods to tax digital companies. One hundred and thirty countries subscribed to the outline of a plan earlier this month.

“The G20 endorsement of a global tax deal will send a strong message that companies must pay their fair share in taxes to help the world recover from the coronavirus,” noted LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. “As Secretary Yellen advocates, we must increase the global minimum corporate tax beyond 15%."

$650 billion of emergency reserves known as Special Drawing Rights are also on the agenda to fight the pandemic.

“As we move forward with a new creation of global reserve funds, the G20 must ensure that developing countries receive enough of these funds to emerge from this crisis with resilience," stated LeCompte.

Read the IMF note warning about US interest rates and global impacts here.

Read Jubilee USA's G20 COVID Response letter with 268 signatories here.

Read Jubilee USA's statement on the G7 Summit and communiqué here.