Brazil urges 'new globalization' at G20 meeting overshadowed by Ukraine

Brazil called for a “new globalization” to address poverty and climate change, during its opening on Wednesday of a meeting of finance ministers of major economic countries, but the wars in Ukraine and Gaza may cast a shadow on the call.

“The global economic outlook is full of challenges,” Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad told his counterparts from the Group of 20 leading economies, at the opening of their first meeting this year in Sao Paulo, although he delivered his speech remotely, after coming out with statements. Covid-19.

“It is time to redefine globalization,” said Haddad, a close ally of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “We need to create incentives to ensure international capital flows are not determined by direct profit but by social and environmental principles.”

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva and other top economic policymakers are in Brazil's financial capital for the two-day meeting – although there are some notable absences, including Chinese, Indian and Russian finance representatives. Ministers.

Brazil, which took over the rotating presidency of the G20 from India in December, is pushing for the group to prioritize combating poverty and climate change, ease crushing debt burdens on low-income countries, and give developing countries a greater role in institutions. Such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Also on the agenda: increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

“We need to make sure that the world’s billionaires pay their fair share of taxes,” Haddad said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire supported this call, telling reporters that Paris seeks to “accelerate” international negotiations on imposing a minimum tax on the wealthy.

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The meeting, which follows a meeting of foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro last week, will lay the foundation for economic policy for the annual summit of G20 leaders, scheduled to be held in Rio in November.

– G7 targets Russian assets –

But even before the G20 meeting opened, the conflict in Ukraine took center stage.

The Group of Seven countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union – held their own meeting on the sidelines to discuss mustering Western support for Kiev, which desperately needs more. Aid as the Russian invasion enters its third year.

Officials said that G7 finance ministers discussed a proposal to confiscate an estimated $397 billion in Russian assets frozen by the West due to Moscow's military operation.

Yellen said on Tuesday that it was “necessary and urgent” to tap those assets to help finance Ukraine, an idea also supported by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

But there were divisions among the G7 members.

“I want to be very clear: we do not have the legal basis to seize Russian assets now. We need to do more… The G7 must act with adherence to the rule of law,” French Le Maire said.

Ukraine warned that it is in dire need of more military and financial aid, in light of the faltering of a new US aid package worth $60 billion in Congress.

“What is really urgent is for the United States to release the $60 billion,” Le Maire said.

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The war in Gaza was also a recurring topic at the G20 meeting, amid fears that the Israeli attack on the Palestinian Hamas movement could turn into a wider war, with potentially disastrous effects on the global economy.

“The real economic risks today are geopolitical risks, which could prevent the return of growth,” Le Maire said, describing the potential expansion of the conflict in the Middle East as a “major risk.”

The G20, founded in 1999, represents more than 80% of global GDP, three-quarters of global trade, and two-thirds of the world's population.

It includes 21 members: 19 of the world's largest economies – including industrialized countries and emerging powers – in addition to the European Union, and participating as a member for the first time this year, the African Union.

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