Remarks at the High-Level Meeting on Middle-Income Countries

Thomas Leiby
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 2, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this high-level meeting. The U.S. delegation welcomes the opportunity to speak on our efforts to assist middle-income countries in their recovery efforts from the pandemic-related economic downturn.

The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and we have seen the acute effects in middle-income countries.

Last month, President Biden and G7 leaders agreed to continue providing policy support to the global economy for as long as necessary to create a strong, balanced, and inclusive economic recovery.

We are proud to be a part of the historic commitment of the G7 leaders and guest countries to provide more than 1 billion additional COVID-19 vaccine doses for the world since February.

This follows President Biden’s historic announcement on June 10 that we would purchase and donate a half billion doses of Pfizer vaccines and donate them to 100 countries, including 92 low- and lower middle-income economies in the COVAX Advance Market Commitment and eight additional African Union countries. This is the largest single donation of vaccines in history and comprises half of the G7 commitment.

The G7 economies also made a commitment towards achieving a robust global minimum tax at a rate of at least 15 percent. It would end a race to the bottom in corporate taxation, and it would ensure fairness for the middle class and working people around the world.

But we need more than vaccines and a global minimum tax for the world to get back on track to meet the ambitious goals we set for ourselves in the 2030 Agenda. We also need investment.

I would like to highlight three areas where we can improve conditions to increase investment in infrastructure—even amidst the challenges of recovery.

First, we must invest wisely. Countries should ensure that development projects adhere to internationally accepted standards for environmental and social risk mitigation and debt sustainability, build local capacity, prevent corruption, and improve local resilience against climate change and natural disasters.

At the G7 Summit, President Biden and our G7 partners agreed to launch a bold new global infrastructure initiative, Build Back Better World, or B3W, a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies to help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through B3W, the G7 and other like-minded partners will coordinate in mobilizing private-sector capital around the globe in four areas of focus—the climate crisis, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality—with catalytic investments from our respective development finance institutions.

Second, we must attract investment.

The OECD Policy Framework for Investment and the Compendium on Infrastructure Good Practices provide specific recommendations to create a competitive investment climate. The roadmap already exists; governments should follow it to reach their desired destination.

We should work to foster high quality investment – investment that involves partnership, not coercion; that is not only economically sound, but adheres to high standards, like protecting the environment and respecting human rights, including workers’ rights.

Finally, we should draw on the resources and capabilities of institutions with proven methods of protecting the vulnerable, the environment, and delivering a measurable meaningful impact for middle-income countries.

The multilateral development banks have a clear advantage in expertise and experience. With years of development finance experience, multilateral development banks have proven technical expertise and adhere to the highest standards.

Our shared goal is to create sustainable and inclusive social and economic value, create jobs, propel economic growth and opportunity, and improve living conditions for all, especially for the most vulnerable.

The United States looks forward to your partnership.

Thank you.