Finance chiefs of the Group of 20 economies wrapped up a two-day meeting on Thursday but again failed to issue a joint statement apparently due to divisions over Russia's war in Ukraine, posing a threat to efforts to strengthen coordination amid slow growth, debt distress and banking concerns.
India, this year's G-20 chair, said the group discussed the current state of the world economy, how to strengthen the international financial architecture, and the deepening of multilateral cooperation in addressing debt issues.
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who co-hosted the meeting, said the challenges posed by crypto assets were also addressed and there was a "greater acceptance" that any action regarding them has to be coordinated globally.
The meeting ended without the issuance of a chair's statement, at a time when the relevance and effectiveness of the G-20 as a multilateral framework to address crises is being tested. Sitharaman told a press conference that an outcome document was not planned in the first place.
Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki brushed off the view that the G-20 is "dysfunctional."
"Issuing an outcome document in and of itself is not the objective. What is important is for the members to gather and discuss the challenges facing us," Suzuki told a press conference after the meeting.
Suzuki said he told the gathering that increased vigilance was warranted against the spillovers of recent banking woes, noting that the global economy is in a "difficult" state due to the war in Ukraine.
The G-20 meeting, described by India's finance chief as "intense," took place on the fringes of gatherings in Washington hosted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
All members of the group have criticized Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, apart from China and Russia, a deep gulf highlighted in the previous finance chiefs' meeting in February.
Since then, fears about the health of the banking sector have gripped financial markets and uncertainty has grown about the pace of aggressive rate hikes by central banks in major economies. The IMF this week cut its global growth forecast for 2023 to 2.8 percent from 2.9 percent three months ago.
The U.S. Federal Reserve and other major central banks have been raising interest rates to tame inflation, benefiting their currencies.
Higher rates and a strong U.S. dollar, however, make it difficult for mid- and low-income nations that have taken on huge debts to be repaid in dollars, while the weakness of their own currencies has boosted import costs for energy and raw materials.
Sri Lanka is among the nations whose debt vulnerabilities have been exposed, prompting the IMF to approve a $3 billion loan. Its major creditors -- China, France, India and Japan -- are part of the G-20.
The financial aid came after China, which had shown reluctance, decided to support the restructuring of Sri Lanka's debt.
Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda attended the G-20 for the first time since assuming his post on Sunday and explained the central bank's stance of maintaining monetary easing as its 2 percent inflation target has yet to be attained sustainably.
Along with the Group of Seven nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union -- the G-20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.