BENGALURU: G20 finance ministers failed on Saturday to agree a joint statement on the global economy at talks in India, after China sought to water down references to the Ukraine war.

Instead current G20 president India issued a “chair’s summary” which said “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine” and that there were “different assessments of the situation and sanctions” at the two-day meeting in Bengaluru.

A footnote said two paragraphs in the summary about the war, which it said were adapted from the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration in November, “were agreed to by all member countries except Russia and China”.

Spain’s representative Nadia Calvino had said earlier that because of “less constructive” approaches by some unspecified countries at the talks among the world’s top 20 economies, agreeing on a statement was “difficult”.

China wanted to change the language of the declaration from November, officials said, with one saying on condition of anonymity that Beijing wished to remove the word “war”.

Previous meetings of G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs have also failed to produce a common communique since Russia, a member of the grouping, invaded its neighbour last February.

Senior Indian official Ajay Seth said the Chinese and Russian representatives did not want to sign up to the wording on Ukraine because “their mandate is to deal with economic and financial issues”.

“On the other hand, all the other 18 countries felt that the war has got implications for the global economy” and needed to be mentioned, Seth told a closing news conference.

China has sought to position itself as neutral on the conflict while maintaining close ties with strategic ally Russia.

State news agency Xinhua quoted top diplomat Wang Yi on Wednesday as saying China was willing to “strengthen strategic coordination” with Russia after meeting President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

On Friday, the first anniversary of the invasion, China published a 12-point paper calling for a “political settlement” to the crisis that was met with scepticism from Ukraine’s allies.

G20 host India has also refused to condemn Russia, which is New Delhi’s biggest arms supplier and has become a major source of oil for India since the invasion.

Western countries — including the United States, Germany and France — had insisted the language in any joint statement could not be weaker than the communique issued by G20 leaders in Indonesia in November.

“This is a war. And this war has a cause, has one cause, and that is Russia and Vladimir Putin. That must be expressed clearly at this G20 finance meeting,” German Finance Minister Christian Lind­ner told a news conference on Friday.

India’s summary document said the global economic outlook had “modestly improved”, although overall growth remains “slow” and risks persist including elevated inflation, a resurgence of the pandemic and high debts in many poorer nations.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

A new operation
Updated 25 Jun, 2024

A new operation

Clear deterrent action is needed against terrorist groups, but without upending the lives of people in the affected areas.
Power theft
25 Jun, 2024

Power theft

FEDERAL Energy Minister Awais Leghari’s statement during a TV interview that electricity theft amounts to Rs600bn ...
Fatal air
25 Jun, 2024

Fatal air

TOXIC air can cost us our children. It causes life-threatening illnesses, inflicts lifelong damage and leads to ...
Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...