G-7 Officials Vow to Maintain Fiscal, Monetary Expansion to Beat Coronavirus (Reuters)
Last Modified: 11:27 AM, Tue Mar 24, 2020

By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

24 March 2020

Word Count: 538

G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors today pledged to expand fiscal and monetary actions for as long as necessary to restore growth and confidence battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The officials highlighted the urgent need to boost support for the rapid development, manufacture and distribution of diagnostics, therapeutics and a vaccine for COVID-19. They said they were also providing assistance to help other countries strengthen efforts to beat the disease. The officials said they were ready to deliver the fiscal effort necessary to help their economies rapidly recover and resume the path toward sustainable growth, while providing liquidity support to mitigate the negative economic impacts. On the monetary front, G-7 central banks were taking exceptional action to support economic and financial stability and improve liquidity, including through swap lines among central banks, they said.

Andrea Shalal/David Lawder

WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - G7 finance ministers and central bank governors on Tuesday pledged to expand fiscal and monetary actions for as long as necessary to restore growth and confidence battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Group of Seven advanced world economies said: "We will do whatever is necessary to restore confidence and economic growth and to protect jobs, businesses, and the resilience of the financial system. We also pledge to promote global trade and investment to underpin prosperity."

Weekly meetings would continue, said the G7, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States.

The finance officials highlighted the urgent need to boost support for the rapid development, manufacture and distribution of diagnostics, therapeutics and a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

They said they were also providing assistance to help other countries strengthen efforts to beat the disease, the group said, which has now infected more than 377,400 people across the world and killed over 16,500.

The officials said they were ready to deliver the fiscal effort necessary to help their economies rapidly recover and resume the path toward sustainable growth, while providing liquidity support to mitigate the negative economic impacts.

The group's response includes efforts to help businesses and individuals survive the pandemic and the downturn it is causing.

A senior Japanese finance ministry official said the group did not agreed on any numerical fiscal target for the measures.

Unlike the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, when rescue efforts were largely focused on big banks and companies, the G7 is focused this time on new policies for employment, working from home, and vulnerable populations, as well as expanded access to childcare and unemployment benefits.

G7 countries are also providing liquidity enhancements, guarantees, subsidized loans, tax deferrals, and loan repayment deferrals and, where appropriate, grants for affected companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses.

On the monetary front, G7 central banks were taking exceptional action to support economic and financial stability and improve liquidity, including through swap lines among central banks, the statement said.

"We pledge to maintain expansionary policies for as long as needed and stand ready to take further action, using the full range of instruments consistent with our mandates," it said.

Overall, the global financial system today was in better shape to withstand shocks, maintain market functioning, and sustain the supply of financing to support the real economy due to reforms enacted after the global financial crisis.

"We will stay vigilant and take necessary steps to ensure that the financial system can continue to support the economy," the group said, urging financial institutions to keep lending to consumers and firms harmed by the pandemic.

G7 ministers also called on oil-producing countries to support efforts to promote global economic stability, but did not specifically refer to an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

They said they supported efforts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to respond to the pandemic, and stood ready to contribute further resources to multilateral efforts aimed at helping the most vulnerable and least developed countries. (Reporting by David Lawder and Andrea Shalal Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Creditline: Reuters
Slugline: HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/G7 (UPDATE 2)