A two-day meeting of G20 finance ministers in Indonesia ended without a joint statement after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine divided the global forum.
During talks on the Indonesian island of Bali, finance chiefs pledged to tackle global food insecurity, mounting debt, and energy crises but made few political breakthroughs.
In closing remarks on Saturday, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Finance Minister of the G20 Presidency, said that instead of the official statement it would be a 14-paragraph statement issued by Indonesia.
Indrawati said most of the topics were agreed upon by all members except for certain statements about the war in Ukraine. She described it as the “best result” the group could have achieved at this meeting.
Some used the forum as an opportunity to accuse Russian technocrats of exacerbating problems.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on Friday blamed the invasion of Ukraine for shocking the global economy.
There is no place in conversations
At the start of the second day of talks, Central Bank of Indonesia Governor Piri Warjiu called on ministers and global financial leaders to focus on recovery in the global economy suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting took place after the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast, with another cut expected this month as US inflation raised fears of a recession.
But the Ukraine war cast a pall over the talks after it upset global markets, sent food prices up and fueled inflation.
The Kremlin described the war as a “special military operation” and blamed retaliatory Western sanctions for blocking food shipments and soaring energy prices.
The meeting was attended by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko.
Russia’s deputy finance minister, Timur Maksimov, attended the talks in person a week after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov withdrew from the G-20 meeting due to the West’s criticism of the invasion.
Maximov was in the room while Western officials expressed their convictions, according to an existing source. Marchenko called for “more targeted sanctions” against Moscow.
Indonesia has refrained from inviting Russia to participate in G20 meetings, including a leaders’ summit in November, even as Western countries reiterated calls for Moscow to be excluded from the group.
Yellen and Freeland, who have Ukrainian heritage, said representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government had no place in the talks.
Observers said the failure to agree on a joint statement would hamper coordinated efforts to resolve high inflation and food shortages.
“The lack of a statement by the G20 finance ministers means that it will be more difficult for the G20 to reach consensus on vital issues in the fall,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, a nongovernmental organization that pushes for developing nations debt relief, For Agence France-Presse.
“Internal divisions hamper the ability of the G-20 to act decisively and leave the world in uncharted waters.”
The US Treasury said Yellen held bilateral meetings with counterparts from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Australia, Singapore and Turkey, and lobbied their support for caps on Russian oil prices to cut Putin’s war fund.
In response to the food crisis, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Trade Organization have called for action in four areas.
“Support the vulnerable, facilitate trade, boost food production, and invest in climate-resilient agriculture,” IMF News Chief Kristalina Georgieva wrote in a tweet late Friday, summarizing the call to action.
We need to work together to tackle the food security crisis. This is why the heads Tweet embed @world bank WFP wto I call for action in 4 key areas: supporting the vulnerable, facilitating trade, boosting food production and investing in climate-resilient agriculture. https://t.co/2WKnW4QVbs
– Kristalina Georgieva (@KGeorgieva) 15 July 2022
Members also discussed sustainable finance, cryptocurrency, and international taxation on Saturday.
Mulyani said “progress” has been made on international tax rule changes that will set a globally lower corporate tax rate of 15 percent by 2024.