British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak headed to his debut G20 summit Sunday urging world powers to unite against exploitation of the global economy by “malign actors”.
After becoming the UK’s third premier this year, Sunak is set to have his first bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders at the summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Beyond supporting Western unity against Russia over Ukraine, Sunak wants allies to shore up the international financial system including the World Trade Organization, according to Downing Street.
Developing nations must have access to credit for economic growth without becoming reliant on “exploitative” lenders, Sunak is expected to tell the summit, echoing past G7 criticism of China.
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The WTO should be reformed to curb the “manipulation of global markets by malign actors”, he will also say in another coded critique of G20 member China.
Sunak’s pre-summit warnings against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime have been clearer.
“We will call out Putin’s regime, and lay bare their utter contempt for the kind of international cooperation and respect for sovereignty forums like the G20 represent,” he said in a statement Saturday.
While Putin is not attending the summit, Sunak’s spokesman said the prime minister would confront Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bali.
Some pundits had queried whether Sunak might go soft on Russia in view of the economic crisis affecting Britain, on the back of surging energy prices.
But Sunak’s spokesman told reporters that Britain’s support for Ukraine “will not fade or alter”.
In Bali, Sunak “will speak with our allies in one voice on this”, the spokesman added.
Sunak is due to return to Britain early on Thursday and head straight into his finance minister’s presentation of an emergency budget statement.
The statement is expected to include painful tax hikes and spending cuts, after Sunak’s short-lived predecessor Liz Truss panicked markets with a spree of unfunded tax cuts.
Sunak said Thursday’s budget would “set out how we will get this country on the right path”.
“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,” he said before flying to Bali.
“At the G20, leaders need to step up to fix the weaknesses in the international economic system which Putin has exploited for years.”