When the G20 was called
more than a decade ago
to deal with the global
financial crisis, we had
to overcome US scepticism,
G7 hesitancy, Chinese pressure to
restrict its remit, and French pressure to
broaden it. Such was the jockeying for
places that not 20 but 23 national leaders
attended the London summit. Their
greatest disagreement was not over the
$1tn stimulus but tax havens.

In the end, we agreed short-termfiscal
targets, but not medium-term
growth targets. Our plan to reframe global
institutions for an age of global capital
flows and supply chains also failed.
But at least all realised that if we did not
stand together,we woul dfall separately.

It was the unanimous commitment to
shared objectives, built on the rock of
practicalmeasures, that helped restore
confidence where there had been none.
It is a confidence that G20 leaders
must rebuild during today’s unique crisis.
The crisis force dadire trade-off. The
more aggressively we confront the global
medical emergency by shutting
down workplaces, the worse the economic
emergency, producing an even
greater need for co-ordinated action to
slow and reverse each national economy’s
slide. Yet such is the mismatch
between the need for international cooperation and our present willingness
undertake it, that the ambition of the
G20 seems in inverse proportion to the
enormity of our joint challenges.

As we face the coronavirus pandemic,
the idea of individual self-isolation is
now commonplace. But national self isolation
has also taken off. In the initial
post-coldwar era, the US acted multilaterally;
now, in amore multipolar era, it
acts unilaterally. This us-versus-them
nationalism — “America first”, “China
first”, “India first”, “Russia first”, “Brazil
first” or “Turkey first” — has gone global.
Yet even the most isolationist
nation knows it is not enough to stop
Covid-19 in one country: it must be

The G20must underwrite and accelerate
a concerted global effort to
develop, manufacture and distribute
vaccines and treatments. Every nation
needs, almost simultaneously and at
scale, testing kits, ventilators, cleaning
chemicals and protective equipment.
To achieve this, instead of dog-eat-dog
bidding wars that encourage profiteering,
the G20 should back the World
Health Organization and the Global
Fund’s efforts to co-ordinate and
increase production and procurement
of medical supplies. Over time, it must
build a global stockpile and workforce.
Tariffs and other protectionist barriers
must go:nothing should prevent what is
mass produced in and for one country
from being mass produced for others.

In 2010, synchronised monetary, fiscal
and anti-protectionist measures by
the G20 quickly restored growth. Now,
similar measures could maximise the
impact of individual national policies
well beyond the $2tn stimulus forecast
by the OECD. The world would be far
stronger and more stable if each systemically
important central bank simultaneously
intervened as radically as the
US Federal Reserve. The IMF should
also agree a new Special Drawing Right
allocation to help address massive
emerging market capital outflows.

That strength and stability could be
evenmore effectively advanced by a coordinated
fiscal stimulus — far more
than the two per cent of global gross
domestic product deployed in 2009.
The EU and China must now match US
and UK policies on this.

Fiscal policy is doubly important
because issues of fairness loom large.
The poorest and most vulnerable bear
the greatest burden andwill suffermost
when debts have to be repaid. G20 fiscal
action cana void a second decade of austerity
and lower the risk of further
waves of populist nationalism.

Lastly, the G20 should tomorrow
form a task force to co-ordinate the
work of political leaders, medical
experts and the heads of international
institutions. If Africa’s rates of infection
approach Asia’s,multilateral funds will
soon be exhausted. The G20 shouldl ook
a fresh at fully funding the WHO; replenishing
GAVI, the vaccination fund; and
promise the World Bank extra
resources. One cost-effective option is
the new International Finance Facility
for Education (IFFED). As countries
redirect investment to macroeconomic
support and social safety nets, IFFED
could assume an additional remit: training
the 18m health workers developing
countries need.

The G20 has yet to fulfil its potential
as the world’s premier economic forum.
Yet there are precedents. Out of the carnage
of the second world war came the
UN, the IMF, World Bank and the WHO.
Out of this crisis must come reforms to
the international architecture and a
whole new level of global co-operation.
This is an urgently needed public good
for a world beginning to understand
that it ismore interdependent and fragile
than ever before.

Financial Times (Royaume-Uni)