The lack of American leadership in such forums comes from the fact that the world continues to face severe economic stress from the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund forecast last month that the global economy would shrink 4.4 percent in 2020 and that the recovery would be long, uneven and uncertain. Poor countries were particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus. The World Bank estimated in October that the pandemic could drive more than 100 million people into extreme poverty this year.
On Sunday, leaders threw their support behind a new framework to provide debt relief to poor countries hard hit by the pandemic and reiterated their commitment to freeze bilateral debt payments through June. More than 40 countries achieved immediate debt relief of over $ 5 billion this year. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, had already backed the move, but it wasn’t clear if it was on Mr. Trump’s radar.
And after four years of disrupting the global order in international trade, the communiqué underscored a commitment to the future of the World Trade Organization, expressed support for the “multilateral trading system” and called for a “stable” trading environment and open markets. Although no tariffs were mentioned, the language could be understood as a reprimand for Mr. Trump’s predilection for protectionism and trade wars.
It wasn’t just formal language that highlighted the gap between European leaders and the outgoing American president. On Saturday, Mr Trump was not listed as a participant in a side event of the conference on pandemic preparation and response. The speakers at the event included French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, Mr Trump played golf at his club in Virginia, his fifth day since the election, the results of which he still denies despite there being no evidence to support his claims. Mr Trump was at Trump National Golf Club for the sixth time on Sunday afternoon.
Former Republican advisors criticized the move.
During the global financial crisis, “George W. Bush convened the first summit of G20 heads of state and government to set the course for repairing and reforming the world economy,” said Daniel M. Price, former Bush adviser on international Trade and investment was responsible for affairs. “When this forum met yesterday to address the Covid-19 crisis, Donald Trump chose golf and underscored President-elect Biden’s job of restoring the trust in the US leadership that his predecessor had exhausted.”
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the White House summed up Mr Trump’s attendance at the weekend summit and appeared to suggest that he will be in the G20 next year, when Italy will host.
“President Trump thanked Saudi Arabia for its leadership during his G20 presidency and looked forward to working with Italy as the new G20 president,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
Mark Landler contributed to coverage from London.