Saudi Arabia to hold G20 summit online

Meeting will focus on protecting lives and restoring growth by addressing vulnerabilities uncovered during pandemic

epa08317609 Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz delivers a speech on the outbreak of the coronavirus, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 19 March 2020 (issued 24 March 2020). Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has announced a nation-wide curfew from dawn to dusk starting from 24 March for the duration of 21 days. According to local media reports Saudi Arabia has registered 51 new cases on 23 March bringing the total to 562 cases, 19 of them have recovered.  EPA/BANDAR ALJALOUD / HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

The G20 leaders summit will be held online in November, Saudi Arabia said on Monday.

The meeting will focus on protecting lives and restoring growth by addressing vulnerabilities uncovered during the pandemic, and by laying down foundations for a better future, Riyadh said.

The meeting of the leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies, responsible for about 80 per cent of the world’s economic output and two-thirds of its population, was due to be held in the kingdom for the first time in Riyadh on November 21 and 22, until the pandemic hit.

"The G20 has contributed over $21 billion (Dh77.1bn) to support the production, distribution and access to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines," the group said in a statement.

G20 nations have also injected $11 trillion to protect the global economy and launched a debt suspension initiative for the world's least developed countries, allowing them to defer $14bn in debt payments due this year.

On Friday, the G20 said the number of eligible countries asking for debt relief rose to 46 since April from regions all over the world as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on the global economy.

Thirty African nations sought assistance under the G20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to most major events around the world either shifting online, being postponed or cancelled as travel restrictions remain in place in many countries to curtail its spread. Earlier this month, the Future Investment Initiative, the kingdom's flagship annual investor conference, was postponed from October until January next year.

The World Economic Forum also said last month that it would reschedule its annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos until the summer, although it will still hold a Davos Dialogues event online during the week the event was due to take place in January.