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Second G20 Extraordinary Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting: Remarks of Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer (May 14, 2020)

May 14, 2020

Thank you to the Saudi Presidency for convening this important meeting today and for your strong leadership throughout the year.  To you we say, Ramadan Mubarak.

Listening carefully to the previous interventions, I am pleased that there is much in each with which we agree.  This greatly facilitates our job of finalizing the list of collective actions that can be taken in response to COVID-19. 

Of course, the U.S. response will continue to be driven by the crisis we are facing at home.  More Americans have been infected with and died from COVID-19 than any other nationality.  As of this past Tuesday, May 12, the United States counted nearly 1.4 million known COVID cases, and over 84,000 deaths.  

Addressing these matters of life and death is the most important priority for President Trump and the entire U.S. government. At the same time, we are fully aware that it is important to bolster the economy, at home and worldwide, as the courageous health professionals and scientists do their work.  On this, the United States is doing its part:

  • Americans have provided nearly $6.5 billion in government and non-government assistance and donations to the global COVID-19 response.  This amount accounts for nearly 60% of global contributions and represents the largest country total in the world.
  • The United States Federal Reserve has taken aggressive actions to support markets, businesses, and financial stability at home and abroad, providing lending up to $2.3 trillion to U.S. households and businesses and cutting the rate it charges on exchange swaps with central banks all around the world.
  • The United States Congress has appropriated well over $3 trillion in economic support, a sum equivalent to 15 percent of U.S. GDP, and 3 percent of world GDP.  This support for American businesses and families promotes sustained consumption – which in turn helps supports economies around the world. 

So with respect to the economics of this crisis, the United States is acting with urgency on a large scale – to national as well as global benefit. 

The collective actions we are endorsing today will complement these unilateral actions.  The United States strongly supports efforts that can better facilitate trade, promote transparency, bolster logistics networks, and help the small businesses most affected by the crisis. 

We share the collective interest in continuing to promote the necessary reforms to the WTO and taking steps to address the strategic vulnerabilities in global supply chains. 

We are learning in this time of crisis how dependent we all are on the digital economy, and the need to better facilitate digital trade. 

We also know that upholding market-oriented conditions will be even more important as we eventually phase out the emergency stimulus measures.  

But while we are in the midst of the crisis, we caution against embarking upon new plurilateral tariff cutting negotiations, or trying to dictate what the future role of the WTO may be in terms of addressing longer-term actions.  Indeed, we find it inappropriate to use this crisis, which has been tragic for the global community, to push other agendas.

Thank you again, Mr. President, for calling this meeting and for your leadership.  We support the statement of this meeting.