US Treasury Secretary Yellen to urge G-20 help for developing countries to end pandemic

Ms Yellen will urge the G-20 to tailor their policies to individual country circumstances to secure an inclusive recovery. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will urge her G-20 counterparts to work towards ending the Covid-19 pandemic in developing countries and ensuring they have the resources needed to support an equitable recovery, a US Treasury official said on Tuesday (Feb 15).

Ms Yellen is due to participate virtually in the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday and Friday.

The US Treasury official laid out US priorities for the meeting, which comes as Covid-19 Omicron variant cases are receding in many wealthy countries but are still rising in many developing countries. Host country Indonesia reported a daily record 57,049 new cases on Tuesday.

South-east Asia's most populous country had initially planned an in-person G-20 finance meeting in Bali, but the venue was moved to Jakarta in January when it became a hybrid gathering with many officials participating virtually.

Ms Yellen will urge the G-20 to tailor their policies to individual country circumstances to secure an inclusive recovery and to close the gap in vaccine access for poorer countries, the official said.

This includes supporting efforts by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation to address global bottlenecks in the deployment of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, the official said.

Ms Yellen also will urge G-20 countries to support a proposed global fund housed at the World Bank to invest in pandemic prevention and preparedness, with its estimated US$75 billion (S$101 billion) cost a "bargain" compared with Covid-19's global economic and human costs.

Ms Yellen also will express confidence that momentum will be maintained among 136 countries to finalise an agreement for a 15 per cent global minimum corporate tax this year, so that it can be put into force in 2023.

The official said Democrats in the US Congress broadly support the international tax provisions.

"Secretary Yellen expects they will be part of any Build Back Better bill passed," the official added, referring to US President Joe Biden's social and climate investment bill, which is currently stalled in Congress.

Ms Yellen also intends to make a pitch for more intensive climate action to meet carbon emissions reduction goals, including mobilising more private capital to finance the transition away from fossil fuels. Public resources can help catalyse additional private financing for reducing emissions, the official said.

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