ICC addresses Finance Minister’s meeting calling for cooperation on debt, financing and vaccine access

  • 8 September 2020

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO today addressed a meeting of Finance Ministers, convened by the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and the Finance Ministers of Canada and Jamaica.

Reaffirming ICC’s solidarity with governments in the effort to protect lives and livelihoods in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Denton highlighted the devastating effects of the pandemic on business and their associated concern with the debt sustainability of their respective governments.

Speaking on behalf of 45 million companies worldwide during the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, Mr Denton said:

“We are now starting to see the full effects of the crisis on the real economy, and broad, rapid – and continued – fiscal stimulus is essential to ensure the viability of small businesses until demand returns to the global economy. … For ICC, a comprehensive package on sovereign debt is an important enabling element of that fiscal stimulus.

During his remarks Mr Denton called on G20 Governments to commit to the following three concrete actions:

  1. to extend the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) through to 2021;
  2. to expand the scope of the DSSI based on the vulnerability of middle-income countries and Small Island Developing States; and
  3. to establish strong mechanisms to ensure full participation by private creditors.

Mr Denton also encouraged private creditors to consider the short- and long-term benefits of joining official creditors in the DSSI and called on the international community to give urgent consideration to a major issuance of IMF special drawing rights.

Mr Denton said: “What this emergency has ultimately shown is that sovereign debt crises are not simply the concern of sovereigns and their creditors: they have spillover effects for the private sector. We are already seeing signs that the supply of essential finance by commercial banks to businesses is retrenching as a result of the fiscal position of emerging market sovereigns. Signs of volatility in the trade finance market could well be the canary in the coalmine in this regard.”

Concluding his remarks Mr Denton called for genuine international coordination for a rational and equitable supply and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to enable a “V” recovery.

“From a real economy perspective, the “business case” for enhanced international cooperation on debt, emergency financing, and access to vaccines, is crystal clear,” he stated.

The outcome of today’s ministerial conference will be submitted to Heads of States, for their review and consideration, at a meeting on the margins of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly on 29 September 2020.

Read Mr Denton’s full intervention