Sunak to urge G20 leaders to ‘fix weaknesses’ in global economy

Rishi Sunak will call on fellow G20 leaders to “fix the weaknesses” in the global economic system and work together to bring down prices driven up by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister arrives in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday for the gathering of leaders of the world’s biggest economies – one of his first outings on the global stage since taking office last month.

The two-day summit, starting on Tuesday, comes as the world confronts some of the most significant economic challenges since G20 leaders first met to respond to the 2008 financial crisis.

The economic woes have been exacerbated by the Ukraine war as it has fuelled a spike in energy and food prices and soaring global inflation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has faced unanimous condemnation from Western leaders over the conflict, is expected to skip the event and send his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov instead.

Mr Sunak said he will “call out Putin’s regime” during the first encounter between a British Prime Minister and Russian government officials since Moscow’s full-scale invasion began in February.

He plans to confront Mr Lavrov with allies at the summit’s first plenary session.

Sergei Lavrov
Sergei Lavrov, Vladimir Putin’s long-standing foreign minister, will be at the Bali summit in his place (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ahead of the trip, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We will absolutely use every opportunity to confront Russia about their continued illegal actions.

“We… will speak with our allies in one voice on this.”

Divisions among the Group of 20 major economies are so deep that the traditional “family photo” has been called off and diplomats are doubtful leaders will be able to issue a communique at the end of the summit.

They cannot agree a statement that condemns Russia as Russia would never agree to condemn itself.

Bali will be the first major diplomatic test for Mr Sunak, whose experience in Government has so far been almost entirely UK-focused.

He will meet Joe Biden for the first time, with the pair due to hold bilateral talks, though the US president’s priority will likely be his own encounter with China’s Xi Jinping.

One-on-one meetings for Mr Sunak are also lined up with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan’s premier Fumio Kishida, new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – and the PM will have the chance to rub shoulders with others on the summit’s margins.

He met some European leaders including France’s Emmanuel Macron at the UN climate talks in Egypt a week earlier, when he signalled a move away from frostier relations under his predecessors in Number 10.

The Prime Minister will want to restore Britain’s reputation for reliability despite recent political turmoil, and show he is returning stability to the economy at home in the wake of Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.

Cop27 summit
Rishi Sunak met French President Emmanuel Macron at the Cop27 climate talks in Egypt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He will also want to use the summit to influence an international agenda that supplements and reinforces what his Chancellor will unveil in the Autumn Statement, according to British officials

Mr Sunak will return to the UK on Thursday just in time for his budget, in which Jeremy Hunt could impose up to £60 billion in tax rises and spending cuts.

The PM said: “Later this week the Autumn Statement will set out how we will get this country on the right path, put public finances on a stable footing and get debt falling.

“Creating a stable international system that protects the most vulnerable will be a core part of that work.

“But addressing the biggest economic crisis in a decade will require a concerted effort by the world’s largest economies – these are not problems we can solve alone.

“At the G20, leaders need to step up to fix the weaknesses in the international economic system which Putin has exploited for years.”

Mr Sunak set out a plan to bolster the global economic system, including urging governments to direct support to poor citizens and countries.

He called for an end to Russia’s “weaponisation” of food production and distribution, and for the renewal of a deal – due to expire on Saturday – allowing grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to ease the global food crisis.

The UK will work with partners to boost investment in the green transition as part of efforts to stop “Russia’s stranglehold over international energy prices”, according to Mr Sunak’s plan.

He also proposed World Trade Organisation reform to open up global trade and tackle the “manipulation of global markets by malign actors”.

The international financial system must have the firepower needed to help developing nations grow without becoming dependent on “exploitative” lenders, the plan said.