The lack of American leadership at such forums comes as the world continues to face severe economic strain from the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund projected last month that the global economy would contract 4.4 percent 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, the leaders threw their support behind a new framework to provide debt relief for poor countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic and reiterated their commitment to freezing bilateral debt payments through June. More than 40 countries have gained over $5 billion in immediate debt payment relief this year. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, had already backed the measure, but it was not clear it was on Mr. Trump’s radar.
And, after four years of Mr. Trump shaking up the global order on international trade, the communiqué underscored a commitment to the future of the World Trade Organization, expressed support for the “multilateral trading system” and called for a “stable” trade environment and open markets. Although there was no mention of tariffs, the language could be read as a rebuke to Mr. Trump’s penchant for protectionism and trade wars.
It was not just the formal language that underscored the rift between European leaders and the outgoing American president. On Saturday, Mr. Trump was not listed as a participant at a sideline event at the conference on pandemic preparedness and response. Speakers at the event included President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Mr. Trump, however, played golf at his club in Virginia, his fifth day there since the election, whose results he is still contesting despite no evidence to support his claims. Mr. Trump was back at Trump National Golf Club on Sunday afternoon for his sixth tee time.
Former Republican advisers criticized the move.
During the global financial crisis, “George W. Bush convened the first G20 leaders’ summit to chart the course for repair and reform of the world economy,” said Daniel M. Price, a former adviser to Mr. Bush who was responsible for international trade and investment. “When that forum met yesterday to address the Covid-19 crisis, Donald Trump chose to play golf, underscoring the task facing President-elect Biden to restore the trust and confidence in U.S. leadership so depleted by his predecessor.”
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the White House summarized Mr. Trump’s participation in the weekend summit and seemed to suggest that he would be involved in the G20 next year, when Italy will host.
“President Trump thanked Saudi Arabia for its leadership during its G20 presidency and looked forward to working with Italy as incoming G20 president,” Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.
Mark Landler contributed reporting from London.