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Remarks by Ambassador Lighthizer at G20 Virtual Ministerial

March 30, 2020

I would like to say thank you to the Saudi Presidency for convening this important meeting today and for your strong leadership throughout this entire year. 

As the last speaker, I can say I found all the interventions informative and encouraging.  There is much in each with which we agree.  We are also grateful to the thoughtful presentations of the six international organizations.  Together there is wisdom in what people have said today and it’s encouraging that we will get through this crisis. 

On behalf of the United States, let me wish a rapid return to good health to all countries represented on this call and others throughout the world.  We are indeed in a grave crisis, but our strength is that we are in this crisis together. 

Like others, I want to emphasize the importance of preserving human life.  This is the number one priority of the United States.  At times like this, all sovereign nations must put the interests of their own citizens first, but they must be very concerned also about the citizens of other countries throughout the world — particularly, those least able to take care of themselves. 

Let us remember, this is in the first instance a health crisis.  We must find a health solution as soon as possible.  The United States is putting great resources behind that and, I’m happy to say, we are working in close coordination with other countries throughout the world to find a solution.  If we solve the health issue quickly, we will have less of an economic crisis. 

Now, all countries are trying to get a handle on how best to support our economies, while also ensuring the non-disruption of supply chains that are necessary to deliver critical medical supplies and agricultural products for citizens.  Unfortunately, like others, we are learning in this crisis that over-dependence on other countries as a source of cheap medical products and supplies has created a strategic vulnerability to our economy.  For the United States, we are encouraging diversification of supply chains and seeking to promote more manufacturing at home. 

President Trump’s economic policies are helping to overcome our vulnerabilities by tackling the supply side constraints and encouraging companies to increase production.  We have a whole-of-government approach to produce more supplies for ourselves and for others throughout the world. 

We recognize that not every country has the ability to boost domestic sources of supply and we agree with leaders that our primary goal is to resolve disruptions in global supply chains that can support the health and well-being of all our citizens. 

In short, on trade, we believe actions taken should be temporary, transparent, and appropriate.  We should do as little as possible to disrupt supply chains and be cognizant of the effects on our neighbors, as I said, particularly those least able to take care of themselves. 

I suggest that we stay focused on this crisis and not try to use it to push other agendas, either in trade or other areas.  This will only seed distrust and lead all of us to setbacks in our objectives in the long run.  Let us not make long-term decisions in the midst of a crisis.  I suggest that we should get through this together, gather all the information we can, and then make decisions for the future to ensure that these things don’t happen to the world again. 

Let me assure you that our government will bring back our economy, stronger and better than ever.  We have committed $6.2 trillion to this endeavor.  This is good news for the United States, but I believe it is also good news for all countries of the world.  This should be encouraging to all of you that we will get through this successfully. 

Let me end where I began, we are all in this grave crisis together and I believe we will all get through it together.  Thank you very much, Mr. President.