Xi Jinping calls for tariff reduction within G20 amid potential virus-driven global recession
Updated 15:20, 27-Mar-2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday urged a collective tariff reduction within the Group of 20 (G20) bloc, a strong call to boost confidence and combat a potential virus-driven global recession.

"I want to call on all G20 members to take collective actions – cutting tariffs, removing barriers, and facilitating the unfettered flow of trade," President Xi said during the video conference of the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19.

"Together, we can send a strong signal and restore confidence for global economic recovery."

The coronavirus outbreak, first reported in central China's Wuhan City last December, has fast spread across the globe within months. Strict control measures including travel restrictions and quarantine rules carried out by various nations have disrupted economic activities and threatened the world's economy.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva predicted days ago that the pandemic will likely cause "a recession at least as bad as during the global financial crisis (in 2008) or worse."

Enhanced macroeconomic policy needed

President Xi urged the G20 countries to leverage and coordinate their macro-level policies to counter the negative impacts on the world economy.

Those would include "strong and effective fiscal and monetary policies," and more coordinated financial regulation to maintain stable chains of global industrial and supply, according to the Chinese president.

According to a G20 Leaders' statement published at the end of the summit, the G20 countries will inject over five trillion U.S. dollars into the global economy as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, China's central bank has implemented a slew of measures to inject liquidity into the market and support small- and medium-sized enterprises, including rate cuts, relending funds and reverse repos.

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China will take an active part in the recovery process, President Xi said, vowing to continue the steps of advancing reform and opening-up, widening market access, improving the business environment and expanding imports and outbound investment.

"We will continue to pursue a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy," he added.

President Xi also told the summit that China will increase its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, daily necessities, and anti-epidemic and other supplies to the international market.

Tight global network of pandemic control required

"All must work together to build a strongest global network of control and treatment that the world has ever seen," President Xi stressed.

"This is a virus that respects no borders," he said.

The president mentioned in his speech that China has set up its online COVID-19 knowledge center, which is open to all countries.

In addition, the country has sent out medical assistance to 89 countries and four international organizations, as per records of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).

The G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 via video link in Beijing, China, March 26, 2020. /Xinhua

The G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 via video link in Beijing, China, March 26, 2020. /Xinhua

The world needs to be resolute in fighting an all-out global war against the COVID-19 pandemic, President Xi urged, calling for joint efforts in developing a cure for the disease.

So far, there is no drug or vaccine that can kill the deadly virus, although several are still in the testing phase.

President Xi pledged to share China's experiences and practices with other countries, while providing assistance as much as possible to countries hit by the growing pandemic.

In solidarity we stand

The Chinese president called on the G20 members to enhance anti-epidemic information sharing and promote containment protocols that are comprehensive, systematic and effective.

It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response against COVID-19, President Xi stressed.

He also voiced support for the international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), in playing active roles during this fight.

Chaired by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the meeting marked the first video summit of the G20 bloc, intended to advance a coordinated global response to the pandemic at a time when the situation in Europe and America is still raging.

As of Thursday, over 480,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, with 21,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.