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A Strong Start for a Significant Success at the G20's Rome Summit

John Kirton,
Director, G20 Research Group, October 30, 2021

As its first day ended, the G20's Rome Summit was on track to produce a significant success overall. On day one leaders dealt with the global economy and global health, and made unprecedented progress on both.


On the economy, G20 leaders produced a strong performance. Leaders approved the revolutionary new tax regime with multinational corporations paying taxes to the governments of countries where they make their profits and a minimum tax of 15%. This made it more likely that all leaders could get their legislatures to make the necessary domestic legal changes, confident that they would not lose business as a result. It would help them raise the revenue they need to control their soaring deficits and invest in the greener digital economy they seek. It also responded to the growing anger about unfairness among their people, who have seen the COVID-19 pandemic make the digital multinationals even richer, while they continue to avoid taxes while poorer people could not. And it further prevented a protectionist trade war on the fastest growing economic sector, as several countries could now safely remove the unilateral digital taxes they have imposed in favour of the new global level playing field.

Leaders also agreed to channel some of the special drawing rights (SDRs) they have been allocated by the International Monetary Fund to the poor countries that need them the most. Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would channel $3.7 billion, or 20% of its SDRs, to support low-income and other vulnerable countries, with approximately $982 million to be distributed to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. A month before the summit, Emmanuel Macron pledged that France would donate 20% of its SDRs to poor countries in Africa, and that he would encourage the G20 to do so for a total of $100 billion.


On health, leaders produced a significant performance. A major advance came on delivering doses, donations and domestic manufacturing support for vaccinating poor people in poor countries against COVID-19. Narendra Modi said that India was ready to produce five billion doses by the end of 2022 for the world.

Trudeau announced Canada would donate at least 200 million doses to the COVAX facility by the end of 2022, including an immediate contribution of up to 10 million Moderna doses. He also announced an investment of up to $15 million, to COVAX Manufacturing Task Force partners, to support creating a South Africa Technology Transfer Hub to develop and produce mRNA vaccines and technologies for Africa. He also confirmed Canada's support for a G20 commitment on pandemic preparedness, including through the establishment of the G20 Joint Finance-Health Task Force.

Boris Johnson announced that the United Kingdom would donate 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to developing countries. There have already been 10 million doses sent to the United Nations–backed COVAX vaccine-sharing program, and 10 million more would follow in the coming weeks. Macron said France would reach 120 million donated doses by mid 2022.

The Indian and Canadian pledges, with a due date of the end of 2022, were sufficiently large and realistic to ensure that the target of vaccinating 70% of the world's adults by then would be met.


To sustain this strong start to the summit's end, G20 leaders would need to perform as strongly when they turn their attention to climate change the second day. The tortuous negotiations among their sherpas on the relevant passages in the leaders' concluding communiqué suggest that this will be an uphill struggle. But the toughest decisions are always left to the leaders themselves at the top of the summit's governance peak.

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John KirtonJohn Kirton is director of the G20 Research Group, G7 Research Group and Global Health Diplomacy Program and co-director of the BRICS Research Group, all based at the University of Toronto. A professor of political science, he teaches global governance and international relations and Canadian foreign policy. His most recent books include Reconfiguring the Global Governance of Climate Change, with Ella Kokotsis and Brittaney Warren (forthcoming), Accountability for Effectiveness in Global Governance, co-edited with Marina Larionova (Routledge 2018), China's G20 Leadership (Routledge, 2016), G20 Governance for a Globalized World (Ashgate, 2012) and (with Ella Kokotsis), The Global Governance of Climate Change: G7, G20 and UN Leadership (Ashgate, 2015), as well as The G8-G20 Relationship in Global Governance, co-edited with Marina Larionova (Ashgate, 2015), and Moving Health Sovereignty in Africa: Disease, Govenance, Climate Change, co-edted with Andrew F. Cooper, Franklyn Lisk and Hany Besada (Ashgate, 2014). Kirton is also co-editor with Madeline Koch of several publications on the G20, the G7 and global health governance, including G20 Italy: The 2021 Rome Summit and G7 UK: The 2021 Cornwall Summit, and, with the support of the World Health Organization, Health: A Political Choice — Solidarity, Science, Solutions, published by GT Media and the Global Governance Project.