G-20 finance chiefs’ meeting ends without a communique but progress on food

Division over Russia’s war in Ukraine meant a meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs 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,” said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

Focus turned instead at the meetings in Bali, Indonesia, to avenues for supporting the most vulnerable — including through bolstering food security and raising alarm over sovereign default risks. The G-20 is considering setting up a fund similar to one for the global health crisis, which received additional pledges to reach $1.28 billion in size. The gathering also saw progress in discussions on the debt treatment for Chad and Ethiopia.

With questions growing about the effectiveness of the G20 in tackling the world’s major problems, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the differences had prevented the finance ministers and central bankers from issuing a formal communique but that the group had “strong consensus” on the need to address a worsening food security crisis.

Host Indonesia will issue a chair’s statement instead. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said most topics were agreed by all members except for particular statements about the war in Ukraine. She described it as the “best result” the group could have achieved at this meeting.

Western countries have enforced strict sanctions against Russia, which says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Other G20 nations, including China, India and South Africa, have been more muted in their response.

“This is a challenging time because Russia is part of the G20 and doesn’t agree with the rest of us on how to characterize the war,” Yellen said, but stressed the disagreement should not prevent progress on pressing global issues.

Russia’s finance minister attended the meeting virtually while his deputy attended in person. Ukraine’s finance minister addressed the session virtually where he called for “more severe targeted sanctions”.

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