Indonesia assumes G-20 presidency, puts Covid-19 recovery high on next year's agenda

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (left) greets Indonesian President Joko Widodo as he arrives for the G-20 summit in Rome, on Oct 30, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Indonesia officially assumed the presidency of the Group of 20 (G-20) major economies for the first time on Sunday (Oct 31), putting recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic high on next year's agenda.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi handed over the reins to Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the close of a two-day summit held in Rome. The meeting took place in person for the first time since 2019.

"This is an honour for us, for Indonesia, and at the same time a great responsibility, which we must carry out well," the Indonesian leader, better known as Jokowi, said before leaving for the summit on Friday.

The year-long presidency, which officially begins on Dec 1 and ends on Nov 30, will culminate with the 17th leaders summit on the holiday island of Bali in October next year.

As host and president, Indonesia has put "Recover Together, Recover Stronger" as the core theme of the G-20 agenda next year.

It will push for fair and equitable global vaccine distribution, as well as the availability of sufficient financing through the establishment of a joint finance and health task force to tackle issues related to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said at the meeting of G-20 finance and health ministers on Friday: "As the 2022 G-20 president, Indonesia is ready to continue this health agenda, because we believe that a stronger health system is an important condition for the global economy to recover together and recover stronger."

Daily Covid-19 cases in Indonesia stood at 523 cases on Sunday, a dramatic fall from more than 50,000 at the peak of a major outbreak in July.

Mobility curbs have also been relaxed, and tourists from 19 nations have been allowed into Bali and the Riau Islands from Oct 14.

Besides the global economy and health, climate change and sustainable development will also be other areas of focus next year.

Mr Widodo told the summit on Sunday that Indonesia, during its presidency, hopes to offer a platform for global partnerships and international funding to support energy transition to cleaner renewables.

"We need to ensure that the transition to new and renewable energy goes hand in hand with the principles of energy security, accessibility, and affordability," he said.

Officials had previously said that the G-20 presidency offered an opportunity for South-east Asia's largest economy to showcase its leadership and also help in reviving its badly battered economy as it prepares to welcome thousands of delegates from all member countries and various international institutions to attend the cumulative meetings.

Jakarta is planning to also promote its economic reforms as well as culture, tourism and creative industries.

Indonesia was inducted into the G-20 - an international grouping of 19 advanced and emerging economies and the European Union - in 2009 and is the only full fledged member from South-east Asia.

On the sidelines of the Rome summit, Mr Widodo also met separately with his counterparts from several countries, including Australia and France.

He discussed defence and climate change issues with French President Emmanuel Macron and proposed the establishment of a vaccinated travel lane and the recognition of vaccine certificates in talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Rome summit was the Indonesian leader's first overseas trip after nearly two years due to the pandemic.

He is scheduled to travel to Glasgow, Scotland, to attend the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which started on Sunday, and then head to the United Arab Emirates for a bilateral meeting, as well as drop in on the World Expo in Dubai.

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