G20 finance heads see modest growth pickup, to monitor coronavirus

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One of the sources said it was the first time a reference to climate change had been included in a G20 finance communique, even though it was removed from the top of the joint statement.

"The outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia will inevitably have a comparatively huge impact on the economic system and society", Xi mentioned, although he added the consequences can be short-term and controllable.

Delegates at the G-20 meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, spent much of their time talking about a response to the coronavirus outbreak that originated in China and has so far killed more than 2,300 people and infected about 80,000.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva in Riyadh for the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting on February 22, 2020.

"We have been closely watching the developments of the virus and assessing its potential effects on economic growth", a senior US Treasury official told reporters.

Aso also said he expressed concern during the meeting over the USA "safe-harbor" proposal regarding global rules on taxes paid by digital giants.

"The latest version gives less prominence than an earlier version to the outbreak as a growth risk, saying only that the G20 would "... enhance global risk monitoring, including the recent outbreak of COVID-19", the medical name for the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Japanese finance minister Taro Aso criticised on Sunday a USA tax reform proposal that he said could undermine global efforts to agree on new rules on taxing big tech companies.

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Mnuchin said the issue was being addressed in negotiations with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and he hoped it could be resolved by the end of the year.

The symposium will be attended by US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin along with a host of other financial leaders.

"For the first tine there is wide consensus among the G20 members on the necessity of having a new worldwide taxation system", he said.

Other European nations like Italy and Austria have already introduced their own digital levy, but France has put its plans on hold.

The finance ministers' gathering is the first formal event in preparation for the summit of world leaders that will take place in Saudi Arabia in November, with the three key aims of empowering people, safeguarding the planet and shaping new frontiers in technology and innovation.

The OECD - of which Ireland is a member - wants to agree on technical details of such a tax by July and a full agreement among the G20 is expected by the end of the year.

Human rights groups have urged G20 member states to exert pressure on the kingdom over its intensifying crackdown on dissent, which has seen women activists, journalists and political dissidents jailed.

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