BANGKOK – Senior finance officials from the Group of 20 top rich and developing nations met on the Indonesian island of Bali on Friday to explore strategies to counter the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine, inflation and other global crises.
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati opened the two-day meeting by urging other finance ministers, central bank governors and other leaders to find ways to “build bridges, not walls.” She said the consequences of failure, particularly for less affluent nations, would be “catastrophic”.
“Millions and millions, if not billions, of people depend on us,” Indrawati said.
The meetings in Bali’s resort town of Nusa Dua follow a gathering there foreign minister Earlier this month, she failed to find common ground on Russia’s war in Ukraine and its global ramifications.
A G-20 finance meeting in Washington, DC in April was attended by officials from the US, UK, France, Canada and Ukraine go out to protest the presence of Russian envoys. This meeting ended without the release of a joint statement.
Still, G-20 finance meetings have the advantage of being less political, Indrawati said.
Indonesia as host has sought to act as an “honest broker,” she said, and to unite a divided East and West within the G-20, a schism that has deepened since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
There is no “playbook” on how to reach agreement amid unprecedented tensions over the war, Indrawati said.
Financial leaders are looking for ways to coordinate how they guide their economies through inflation that’s at a 40-year high, untangling supply chains and shortages from the coronavirus pandemic, and strengthening financial systems against future risks.
The G-20 has managed to bridge differences in handling the 2008 global financial crisis and the pandemic, Indrawati said.
“The actions we take will have a very important impact on the world,” she said.
A key goal of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and some other Western Treasury officials is to reach agreement on setting a Price cap for Russian oil that could help bring energy costs under control and ease decades of inflation in many countries, while restricting Moscow’s access to revenue to fund its war effort.
“A price cap on Russian oil is one of our most powerful tools to address the pain Americans and families around the world are currently feeling at the gas pump and in the grocery store, capping the price of Russian oil,” Yellen told the online briefing Thursday in Bali.
Yellen said no price has yet been set for such a cap, but the level must be one “that clearly gives Russia an incentive to continue producing, that would make production profitable for Russia.”
She said she was “hopeful” that countries like China and India, which recently boosted imports of Russian crude oil, which is being sold at deep discounts, would see it as in their own interest to stay within the price cap.
Without a price cap, an EU and likely US ban on the provision of insurance and other financial services would come into play. “So we are proposing an exemption that would allow Russia to export as long as the price does not exceed a level yet to be determined,” Yellen said.
Yellen did not say if she would leave the closed meeting on Friday during a speech by the Russian representative on the talks. But she said it couldn’t be “business as usual in terms of Russia’s participation in these meetings.”
At the meeting last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were present in the same room at the same time for the first time since the start of the Ukraine war, but demonstratively ignored each other.
Lavrov walked out on at least two occasions: once when his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock was speaking at the opening session, and again just before Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was due to speak at the second session via video, according to a Western diplomat who was present.
As host in the middle, Indonesia has urged officials on all sides to break distrust in favor of a planet facing multiple challenges, from the coronavirus to climate change to Ukraine.
Indonesia is one of the developing countries struggling with bottlenecks rising fuel prices and grain due to the war, and it says the G-20 has a responsibility to step up and ensure the rules-based global order remains relevant.
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/07/15/g20-finance-leaders-in-bali-to-tackle-ukraine-inflation/ G20 finance leaders in Bali to tackle Ukraine and inflation