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World

G7 ministers to consider extending debt freeze for low-income countries: Treasury

  • The ministers repeated their call for all official bilateral creditors to fully implement the G20 debt freeze for the poorest countries.
  • The Group of 20 countries to extend their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) given the economic impact of the pandemic.
17 Aug 2020

WASHINGTON: Finance ministers from the Group of Seven rich countries on Monday noted improved economic conditions in their economies, but underscored their concerns about the debt problems facing low-income countries, a US Treasury spokesperson said.

During a teleconference hosted by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the ministers repeated their call for all official bilateral creditors to fully implement the G20 debt freeze for the poorest countries, and agreed to consider additional options, including extending the initiative into 2021, the spokesperson said.

The meeting also included the leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, who have urged the Group of 20 countries to extend their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) given the economic impact of the pandemic.

G20 members, including China, and the Paris Club of official creditors in April offered a freeze on debt service payments to the 73 poorest countries through year-end to free up an estimated $12 billion in funds for the poorest countries to fight the outbreak and mitigate its economic impact.

But implementation of the debt freeze has been challenging, triggering calls for its extension and expansion.

China's reluctance to include its state-supported China Development Bank and state-owned enterprises in the debt payment suspension and concerns over confidentiality agreements included in many Chinese loans to countries in Africa have slowed progress in executing the debt freeze, economists say.

Private-sector participation has also been sluggish.

The ministers agreed on Monday to "advance debt data transparency and consider additional options going forward for low income countries, including an extension of the DSSI into 2021," the spokesperson said.

They also emphasized the need to manufacture and distribute vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, particularly in low-income countries.

They also discussed country issues, including support for the people of Lebanon, the spokesperson said.