The Group of 20 finance chiefs said Friday the outlook for world economic growth is increasingly uncertain, agreeing that geopolitical issues can have grave consequences as they adopted a joint statement for the first time in over a year, but without singling out Russia or making reference to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Capping two days of talks in Morocco, the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors expressed "deep concern" about the human suffering and other adverse impacts caused by "wars and conflicts around the world."
While reiterating that the G20 is a forum to discuss economic and financial issues and not a venue to deal with conflicts, they urged all states to uphold the principles of international law and ensure territorial integrity and sovereignty.
It is the first time in seven meetings, or since February 2022, that the finance chiefs have adopted a joint communique, after deep divisions among them, primarily between Western nations on one hand and Russia and China on the other, made it difficult for the diverse group to arrive at a consensus.
"There weren't very many discussions on the conflict and therefore it did not find a place," Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, co-chair of the meeting, told a press conference when asked why they made no mention of developments since the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas militants on Saturday.
Sitharaman's brevity on the matter and its omission from the communique suggest there were differences among G20 members, which include Saudi Arabia and other key players in the Middle East, over the attack and Israel's declaration of war on the Palestinian group.
Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told the press that he voiced "serious concern" over the unfolding situation in the Middle East during the G20 meeting. He also said that "many countries, including Japan, reiterated their solidarity with Ukraine and condemned Russia in the strongest terms."
On the current status of the global economy, the finance chiefs said in the statement it has "shown resilience to recent shocks. However, the outlook remains subdued, uneven and increasingly divergent."
They said risks are tilted to the downside due to geoeconomic tensions, extreme weather events, natural disasters and monetary tightening.
"We reiterate the need for well-calibrated monetary, fiscal, financial, and structural policies to promote growth, reduce inequalities and maintain macroeconomic and financial stability," the statement said.
The meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakech came as central banks in major economies have been aggressively raising interest rates to tame inflation and many G20 members grapple with the repercussions of Russia's war on Ukraine that has sent fuel and raw materials costs higher.
A slowdown in China is also casting a pall over the global outlook, with the International Monetary Fund and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development both projecting growth to slow sharply this year from 2022.
The G20 has faced a critical challenge as an effective forum for policy coordination in times of crisis, having been mired in deep divisions since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.
In September, however, their leaders managed to produce a joint declaration when they met in New Delhi, though they avoided directly criticizing Russia's invasion.
The Group of Seven, involving the United States, major European nations and Japan, has been strengthening sanctions on Russia. Inflation in these advanced economies has been accelerating partly due to the Ukraine war, just as the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
The Russian war has also put the spotlight on food security, with Ukraine known as a major grain exporter. The stoppage of Ukrainian shipments means hardships for poor nations in Africa and beyond.
The G20 called for "the immediate and unimpeded deliveries" of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers from Russia and Ukraine. Moscow pulled out of a deal mediated by Turkey and the United Nations to allow the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea.
Under the presidency of India, major G20 agenda items include addressing debt vulnerabilities in developing nations, reforming multinational development banks and regulating crypto assets.
The G20 includes the G7 members -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union -- along with major developing countries such as Brazil, China, India and Russia, among others.