WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - Finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 largest economies (G20) agreed on a video call on Monday to coordinate their actions to the worsening coronavirus pandemic as needed, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News.
Mnuchin said the United States was working closely with G20 countries, the Group of Seven (G7), the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in responding to the crisis. G20 leaders are due to meet for a virtual summit later this week.
“The good news is there’s a lot of understanding (in) the G20 with both central bankers and finance ministers that we are all prepared to take actions to support our economies and coordinate it on a global basis as needed,” Mnuchin said.
“This is a team effort to kill this virus and provide economic relief.”
G20 finance officials met by video call for nearly two hours as more countries imposed lockdown measures to contain the rapidly spreading virus, which has infected 337,500 people across the world and killed over 14,600.
The G20 finance officials did not issue a joint statement after the call, despite mounting pressure on the G20 nations to play a more decisive role in responding to a pandemic that has jolted markets and stoked fears of a global recession.
The summit, called by this year’s chair, Saudi Arabia, will be complicated by an oil price war between two members, Saudi Arabia and Russia, and a war of words between two others, the United States and China, over the origin of the virus.
The G20 secretariat in Riyadh, in a post on Twitter, said only that finance officials were meeting “on actions required to address COVID-19, in preparation for the extraordinary #G20VirtualSummit.”
One G20 source said financial and economic issues are likely to play a significant role in a statement expected to be released by G20 leaders after their virtual summit this week, but no details were immediately available.
After Monday’s call, Japanese officials urged G20 finance leaders to take timely policy steps to tackle global economic risks posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso said he informed the G20 he was “deeply concerned” about the damage the coronavirus outbreak was inflicting on markets and the global economy.”
He called for each G20 country to “implement necessary and sufficient economic and fiscal measures” and said the G20 should act “without hesitation in a timely manner,” he added. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Editing by David Gregorio)