Prime Minister Narendra Modi in intense conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon G20 countries to make India their partner in economic recovery and resilient global supply chains. Speaking at the G-20 Summit’s inaugural session on economy and Covid in Rome on Saturday, he touched on India’s economic reforms and its willingness to adopt a common global tax on corporations to urge the world’s top 20 economies, accounting for 80 per cent of the global GDP, to view India as their prime investment destination. The PM said emergency use authorisation (EUA) to India’s Covaxin vaccine by the World Health Organisation (WHO) would help facilitate the “process of expedited vaccination.”

He said India was ready to produce over 5 billion Covid vaccine doses by the end of next year to help the world fight the pandemic.

At the first in-person confabulations in two years, the G-20 Summit discussed the need for supplying vaccines to poorer countries and giving them a further extension on debt relief, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. The conference was opened by Italian PM Mario Draghi, who termed the global vaccine gap as “morally unacceptable” because global growth would remain behind due to low vaccinations. The Prime Minister held several bilateral meetings as well as pull-asides on the margins of the conference. He briefly interacted with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and had pull-asides with US President Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, UK PM Boris Johnson and Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau.

“We were not present when the PM met Biden. They would have recalled their last meeting in September. The PM accepted Biden’s side meeting on Sunday,’’ said Shringla. While the G-20 seemed to speak in one voice on vaccine equity, cracks appeared on the issue of climate change. “There are two more sessions,’’ said Shringla, indicating that there was adequate time for a consensus on the issue.

There were expectations that all G20 countries would make new commitments ahead of the UN climate conference (COP26) that begins in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday. Most of the G20 attendees will head for Glasgow but for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

On Sunday, the G20 may take up an issue that has hit economies hard —the imbalance in supply and demand in the global energy markets. Leaders would underscore the need for greater stability in oil and gas markets as the global economy has already been badly bruised by the pandemic.

PM Modi on Saturday met Pope Francis at the Vatican and gifted him a silver candlestick and a book. He invited him to India. The first meeting between an Indian PM and the Pope in two decades lasted for over an hour.