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G-20 to focus on impact of coronavirus on global economy

Women wearing protective face masks and raincoats buy food at a supermarket in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, on Feb. 10, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Finance chiefs from the Group of 20 major economies will focus on the impact of the spread of a new coronavirus on the world economy when they meet later this month in Saudi Arabia, G-20 sources said Tuesday.

    In a meeting slated for Feb. 22-23 in Riyadh, the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors are expected to discuss measures to mitigate risks from the deadly pneumonia-causing virus -- which originated in the central China city of Wuhan -- to the global economy and financial system, the sources said.

    It will be the first G-20 gathering since the outbreak of the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people and infected some 42,000 others in China, more than in the 2002-2003 SARS coronavirus pandemic.

    The new virus has spread to other parts of the world such as Japan, the United States and Europe, prompting falls in some stock and oil prices and sparking concerns about consumer sentiment and disruptions to supply chains.

    The G-20 plans to issue a joint statement calling for increased policy coordination so as to mitigate the impacts of the virus on the world economy, which has been hit by trade tensions between the United States and China.

    In Washington, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in his congressional testimony that the U.S. central bank is paying close attention to the possible economic spillover from the coronavirus outbreak in China to the rest of the global economy.

    Finance Minister Taro Aso and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will represent Japan at the Riyadh meeting.

    Additionally, the G-20 finance chiefs are likely to discuss challenges and possible regulations over digital currencies, according to the sources.

    The planned introduction of digital currencies such as Facebook Inc.'s Libra or China's digitalized yuan has raised concerns that these new types of currencies could undermine the role of sovereign currencies or make monetary policy by central banks less effective.

    The G-20 members have also said concerns about money laundering or illicit financing must be addressed if cryptocurrencies were to be issued.

    The G-20 finance chiefs are also expected to look into international taxation rules for Google LLC and other information technology giants amid criticism that they do not pay their fair share of taxes despite making profits in countries where they are not physically present.

    The G-20 will focus on a proposal outline on the issue agreed by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members in January, the sources said.

    The G-20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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