Exclusive: UK to lead G7 discussion on COVID economic recovery on February 12

William Schomberg
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak outside Downing Street, in London

By William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will chair a meeting of finance chiefs from the Group of Seven rich nations on Feb. 12 to try to map a way out of the global economic crisis inflicted by COVID-19 and to find a solution to an international tax wrangle too.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey will co-host an online meeting of their peers from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, as well as the European Central Bank, Britain's finance ministry said.

"Recognising that a global crisis needs global solutions, the Chancellor will work with his counterparts to address the shared economic challenges facing our domestic and global economies, and seek to achieve a strong and sustainable economic recovery from coronavirus," the ministry said.

The administration of new U.S. President Joe Biden has said it will work with other countries to secure an economic recovery and tackle difficult climate and international tax issues, a change in tone from former president Donald Trump.

Britain is chairing the G7 this year at a time when the global economy is still reeling from the impact of lockdowns, prompting governments to spend trillions of dollars to stave off the worst of the damage.

Vaccination programmes are now underway, raising the prospect of a recovery later this year. But the different pace of the rollouts is likely to mean some regions lag behind with the euro zone at particular risk of a slow recovery.

Climate change and biodiversity loss would be made a central priority ahead of the COP26 conference to be hosted by Britain in November, the British finance ministry said.

"This in addition to working closely to reach a global solution on tax challenges created by digitalisation on the economy, and supporting the global sustainable financing of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics," it said.

Nearly 140 countries are negotiating the first update in a generation to rules for taxing cross-border commerce, reflecting the dominance of big digital companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to host the first in-person summit of G7 leaders in nearly two years in June in a seaside village in Cornwall, western England, to discuss rebuilding from the pandemic and climate change.

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken and Alexandra Hudson)