As G20 President, Indonesia to Focus on Equitable Post-Pandemic Growth

Ronna Nirmala
Jakarta
2021-10-27
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As G20 President, Indonesia to Focus on Equitable Post-Pandemic Growth Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his wife, Iriana Joko Widodo, are seen at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017.
Reuters

Indonesian leaders say they will focus on strengthening international cooperation to achieve equitable post-pandemic economic growth when their country takes over the presidency of the G20 grouping of nations for the first time.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is scheduled to hand over the presidency of the G20 to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the group’s 2021 summit in Rome on Sunday.

The country will be taking over the G20 presidency at a crucial juncture, said Indonesia’s chief economics minister, Airlangga Hartarto.

“This is a meeting of the world’s biggest economies and influential leaders, which will attract global attention,” Airlangga said during a speech Wednesday at the Golkar Institute, about next year’s G20 summit, set to be held in Bali.

“By assuming the 2022 presidency, Indonesia has a strategic opportunity to participate in determining the direction of global economic recovery, post-COVID-19 pandemic,” Airlangga told reporters last month.

The G20 consists of developed and developing countries, which together account for 85 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, 80 percent of global investment, 75 percent of world trade and 66 percent of the world’s population.

Indonesia, the only Southeast Asian member of the G20, was first invited to attend the G20 summit in 2008 in the United States.

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the fourth most populous country in the world. With a diverse population and thousands of islands, it is not an easy place to govern, Airlangga said.

“However, even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have managed to keep our democracy and economy relatively healthy,” he said.

Home to 270 million people, Indonesia has recorded more than 4.2 million coronavirus infections and more than 143,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

By contrast, the U.S., home to about 330 million people, has recorded 46.5 million infections and nearly 46,000 deaths.

Earlier this week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the G20 leaders at this year’s Rome summit were expected to issue a joint declaration committing to global recovery efforts and strengthening economic cooperation.

Multilateralism

Thomas Noto Suoneto, an analyst at the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), said that Indonesia as G20 president would foster cooperative decision making.

“In the past few years, multilateralism has faced quite serious challenges, worsened by the pandemic,” Noto told BenarNews.

“So, I think 2022 … it’s very strategic to show that as a developing country, Indonesia can be a bridge to overcome these challenges.”

Noto also said that as G20 president, Indonesia should push for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

“What will G20 do about this? So far, there’s no vaccine cooperation scheme under the G20,” Noto said. 

Yose Rizal Damuri, an economist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta, said Indonesia would need to accommodate the interests of all G20 countries.

“Indonesia must consider issues of common interest for both developed and developing countries. I think the joint economic recovery agenda is one of the issues that is important for all countries,” Yose told BenarNews.

Future pandemics

Meanwhile, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on G20 countries to prioritize efforts to thwart future pandemics by financing the health sector.

“We have all personally grappled with the deep human and economic cost brought on by this borderless, unforgiving pandemic,” Sri Mulyani and Yellen said in a joint statement posted on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website on Tuesday.

“And while we are making progress in fighting COVID-19, we also face a stark reality: this will not be the last pandemic.”

The officials noted that the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 1½ years shows countries were not ready to respond, mitigate and protect their citizens with vaccines while dealing with the impact of the economic downturn.

 Sri Mulyani and Yellen agreed to set up a special forum focusing on financing, to coordinate prevention, detection and others responses during health sector disruptions.

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