Saudi Arabi hosts get together for diplomats to reflect on its presidency of G20
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Pretoria - It was a first get-together in months for many of Pretoria’s envoys as the Embassy of Saudi Arabia hosted an event in Pretoria to reflect on the country’s presidency of the G20 2020.
The G20 is an international forum for economic co-operation between the governments of 19 countries and the European Union (EU) - and the ambassadors, high commissioners or senior representatives of these countries attended the exclusive event at the Sheraton Hotel yesterday.
Protocols in terms of sanitising, wearing of masks, a limit on the number of guests and tables set apart were observed, but it was clear that those present enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect in person.
Guests were welcomed by Ambassador Sultan Al Angari who said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the world, his country was determined to achieve the original theme of this year’s leadership of the G20, which was, “Realising opportunities for the 21st century for all”.
He spoke of the rapid social and economic transformation in his home country, and said the reforms and plans aligned with the core objectives of the G20, especially at this time of unprecedented crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic implications.
Saudi Arabia, as the G20 president, has co-ordinated some key international efforts to combat Covid-19 and curb its humanitarian and economic impacts. This included the extraordinary G20 Summit, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which was held virtually in March, among other joint meetings.
G20 countries together contributed to support access to diagnostics therapy and vaccines as well as $11 trillion to safeguard the global economy, Al Angari said.
South Africa’s Sherpa (the president’s personal representative) for the G20, Trudi Makhaya, delivered a detailed statement, acknowledging the role the G20 has played in finding solutions to global challenges, and called for a spirit of solidarity that left no-one behind.
The world was looking to the G20 to lead - as it had done in 2008 in response to the global financial crisis, she said.
For its part, South Africa’s role as chair of the AU was part of the continental response to Covid-19, including the launch of the African Union Covid-19 Response Fund
Makhaya commended the leadership and support of G20 countries and said they could play a leading role in a number of areas.
They include collaboration on the health response and ensuring fair and equitable access to a potential vaccine, and food security.
Covid-19 demonstrated the importance of universal health coverage and food security along with the action plan for sustainable economic recovery.
She stressed the impact of the pandemic on developing countries and said it would set back their developmental aspirations and that financial needs would remain large in the coming years.
She lauded the G20-Africa partnership and Initiative on Supporting Industrialisation in Africa, and said there was a need to curb the flight of capital from Africa and to promote domestic manufacturing.
Makhaya touched on the challenges of climate change and the environment; access to energy and the digital economy.
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US, and the EU all belong to the G20.