Remarks at the “IMF and COVID-19: The Global Economic Response” Event

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 12, 2020


Thank you very much to the UAE for convening this timely discussion and to the IMF Managing Director Georgieva for her compelling remarks. I want to take a moment to recognize her effective leadership of the IMF in responding to the global economic impacts of the pandemic.

Our urgent priority is to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and its intertwined health, social, and economic impacts. We are determined to protect lives, safeguard people’s jobs and incomes, support the global economy, and ensure the resilience of the international financial system. In response to the pandemic, the U.S. continues to be the largest global provider of funding, technical support, expertise, high-quality equipment, and food supplies. These efforts will save lives and accelerate the economic recovery across the world.

We match this by our unprecedented fiscal, monetary and financial stability actions to bolster the U.S. economy and help other countries weather the economic crisis. In addition to $1 billion in official assistance, we have also backed the IFIs’ disbursement of billions in emergency loans. Our focus on jump-starting the U.S. economy will help propel global economic recovery.

We understand there is some interest in increasing of special drawing rights, SDRs, but believe there are more targeted and effective ways to help low-income countries. Almost 70 percent of any new allocation would go to the G20 – the wealthiest economies – while just 3 percent would go to low-income countries. More targeted and effective ways to help those most in need include emergency lending through the IMF’s regular and low-income lending facilities and debt relief through its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust. The IMF is urgently seeking to augment both of these facilities, and we are exploring the possibility of a U.S contribution to them, including potentially by using our own SDR allocation. We urge other IMF members to consider pledging new resources for this purpose.

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing debt vulnerabilities in many low-income countries. It makes clear the importance for us all to act now on debt sustainability and transparency.  We are committed to implementing the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, DSSI, to the end of 2020 and possibly longer. We also welcome the decision of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to support this important initiative. It is important that all creditors fully implement the DSSI. We urge creditors and borrowers to publicly disclose the terms of public debt. Countries need to refrain from collateralized transactions that use assets or revenues unrelated to projects. Creditors should limit the use of confidentiality clauses, including for state-owned enterprises, to ensure public borrowers are accountable to their people.

We must also use this opportunity to ensure we build more inclusive economies that lift up all of our citizens. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, annual global GDP could increase by as much as $7.7 trillion if countries address five foundational areas of legal reform impacting women: women’s ability to access institutions; build credit; own and manage property; travel freely; and work in the same jobs and sectors as men. Only through addressing restrictive legal and regulatory barriers will we be able to bring more women into the economy and allow them to chart their own course. The United States will continue to lead in this area through our Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative that supports women around the world as drivers of the economic recovery from COVID-19. Building back better or as you said, Kristalina, building forward, means empowering women to fulfill their true potential.

Again, my thanks to the UAE for bringing us together today for this important conversation.