The lack of US leadership in these forums comes as the world continues to face severe economic strains from the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund projected last month that the global economy would contract 4.4% in 2020 and that the recovery would be long, uneven and uncertain. Poor countries have been particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus; the World Bank estimated in October that the pandemic could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty this year.
On Sunday, leaders gave their support to a new framework to ease the debt of poor countries hit hard by the pandemic and reiterated their commitment to freeze bilateral debt payments until June. More than 40 countries have obtained more than $ 5 billion in immediate debt relief this year. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, had previously backed the measure, but it was not clear that it was on Mr. Trump’s radar.
And, after four years of Mr. Trump rocking the world order on international trade, the statement underscored a commitment to the future of the World Trade Organization, expressed support for the “multilateral trading system” and called for a “stable” business environment. and open markets. Although there was no mention of the tariffs, the wording could be read as a rebuke to Mr. Trump’s penchant for protectionism and trade wars.
It was not only the formal language that highlighted the rift between European leaders and the incumbent US president. On Saturday, Mr. Trump was not on the list of attendees at an event on the sidelines of the pandemic preparedness and response conference. Speakers at the event included President Emmanuel Macron of France and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mr. Trump, however, played golf at his club in Virginia on his fifth day there since the election, the results of which he still disputes despite no evidence to support his claims. Mr. Trump was back at Trump National Golf Club on Sunday afternoon for his sixth start.
Former Republican advisers criticized the move.
“At the height of the global financial crisis in November 2009, George W. Bush called the first summit of G20 leaders to chart the course for repair and reform of the global economy,” said Daniel M. Price , former adviser to Mr. Bush who was responsible for international trade and investment. “When this forum convened yesterday to address the Covid-19 crisis, Donald Trump chose to play golf, highlighting President-elect Biden’s task of restoring confidence in the American leadership so exhausted by his predecessor.
In a statement Sunday afternoon, the White House summed up Mr. Trump’s participation at the weekend’s summit and appeared to suggest he would be involved in the G20 next year, when Italy is the host. .
“President Trump thanked Saudi Arabia for its leadership during its G20 presidency and looked forward to working with Italy as the new G20 president,” said Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary from the White House, in a statement.
Mark Landler contributed reporting from London.