KENIGSWINTER – The finance ministers of the Big Seven leading economies on Thursday will work to eliminate the immediate consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, overtaking their more ambitious plans to reform the world economy.
The refugee crisis, high inflation, food insecurity, exacerbated by war and climate change, and the aftermath of a long-running pandemic are just some of the issues that are attracting the attention of leaders.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, host of the meeting, expressed hope that the world’s leading democracies would be able to agree on further funding for Ukraine if it defends itself against Russia.
Lindner told reporters ahead of a meeting of G-7 finance ministers in Königswinter, Germany, that Ukraine is likely to need “double-digit billions of euros” in the coming months.
Later that day, Lindner said finance ministers and central bankers heard a virtual address by Ukraine’s prime minister and held discussions with the country’s finance minister, who was involved via video link.
“We are currently raising various pledges to directly help liquidity,” Lindner told reporters.
He said Germany had promised grants of 1 billion euros and was hoping for “further progress” during the meeting.
Officials also discussed other topics, such as rising consumer prices.
“Clear decisions are needed to prevent inflation from becoming a long-term detriment and to be able to overcome it very quickly,” Lindner said.
Food security was also the main topic before the meeting. The U.S., several global development banks and other groups on Wednesday unveiled a multibillion-dollar plan to address the dangers facing the increasingly fragile global economy.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a sharp rise in food and energy prices, which is slowing growth and threatening global stagflation – when inflation and unemployment are high and economic production is low.
The two countries are huge exporters of wheat, barley and sunflower oil, and disruptions in food and fertilizer supplies are causing high prices and threatening food security in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday that “global economic prospects are complex and uncertain” and that “high food and energy prices have stagnant effects, including lower production and costs and higher inflation worldwide.” .
Finance ministers also plan to talk about efforts to force China to ease debt pressure on poor countries to which it has lent money.
“The situation of low-income countries poses a risk to global food security and the stability of the international financial system,” Lindner said.
“I remind China of its responsibility for this security situation,” he added. “We need more transparency when it comes to global debt issues, and it is certainly also the topic of this meeting.”
Jordans reported from Berlin. AP writer Geir Mulson of Berlin has contributed.
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