US to push debt relief, Ukraine aid at G20

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will travel to India next week for G20 finance meetings that will focus on unblocking distressed-country debt restructuring, boosting support for Ukraine, and reforming multilateral development banks, a Treasury official said

Yellen will join fellow G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Bengaluru on February 23-25, spanning the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The senior Treasury official told reporters on Friday that Yellen would take every opportunity to criticise Russia’s actions, and to work with allies to try to mitigate spill-overs that the conflict has caused, including addressing food insecurity and high energy prices

Yellen will also emphasise the need to increase financial support for Ukraine, including a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan program, the official said

“I wouldn’t expect her to engage with Russian counterparts in any way other than to forcefully refute any incorrect statements they make during the meetings,” the official said

“And to be very direct in her criticism of Russia and Russia’s war

” The official stated that Yellen had no meetings with Chinese counterparts to announce at present

Yellen said last week that she hopes to travel to China for high-level economic meetings, but the timing would be up to the State Department and the Pentagon, given the recent downing of a Chinese surveillance balloon that floated over the continental United States

At the G20 meetings, Yellen will press China to “quickly deliver” on debt relief for distressed low- and middle-income countries, the official said

China is due to participate in a debt roundtable discussion organised by host India, the IMF and the World Bank, that will focus on broader issues that are creating roadblocks to debt relief deals for Zambia, Sri Lanka and other countries

Among the sticking points is China’s insistence that the World Bank and other multilateral lenders share in the pain of taking debt “haircuts”

The official said the Treasury would “love” to see a deal struck on Zambian debt at the meetings, but the roundtable’s main purpose is to make sure that a range of creditors and borrowers, including private sector creditors, all understand the types of, and how to define, common treatment of creditors

“I wouldn’t say the sovereign debt roundtable is about China specifically

It’s about trying to make sure that we have a functioning common framework and a functioning way to get to that treatment,” the official said

Furthermore, Yellen will also press for consensus on reforming multilateral development banks, to vastly expand their lending to tackle pressing global challenges such as climate change and conflict, whilst maintaining their core missions of reducing poverty, the official said

The issue was drawn into sharper focus this week by World Bank President David Malpass’ surprise early departure announcement

The Treasury official said that the bank’s evolution would be a major topic of discussion

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2023

Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation

Date:19-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link