Yellen travels to India for G20 finance meeting; to Vietnam for bilaterals

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a climate finance roundtable discussion at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Saturday, July 8, 2023. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen travels this week to India for meetings with Group of 20 finance officials and Indian officials, and then on to Vietnam for bilateral talks, the Treasury Department said on Thursday.

Yellen, who returned to Washington on Sunday after a visit to China, will use the G20 meetings to continue pushing for reforms at the multilateral development banks and for moves to accelerate sluggish progress on debt restructuring processes for low-income countries, a senior Treasury official said.

The official noted that Western leaders estimated that multilateral development banks could unlock $200 billion in extra lending firepower over the next decade through measures that were already under way, or under deliberation.

Treasury hoped the World Bank could create a mechanism to provide more resources for countries tackling global challenges such as climate change, and would like the World Bank to explore options for lending to sub- and super-sovereign actors, not just national governments.

Yellen would also urge all official bilateral creditors, including China, to speed up slow-moving debt restructuring efforts. Recent movement on Zambia’s debt was encouraging, but other cases needed to move faster, the official said.

Treasury was pushing for publication of a user manual for borrowing countries aimed at increasing the efficiency of the overall debt restructuring process, the official added.

The U.S. Treasury secretary, who has focused heavily on “friend-shoring” – taking steps to build more resilient supply chains through expanded ties with trusted partners – will hold bilateral talks in India and Vietnam, Treasury said.

Throughout the July 13-21 trip, Yellen would emphasize the need for countries to have diverse, resilient supply chains, although that was not a message “specifically targeted at China,” and it did not reflect any plans by the U.S. to decouple from the Chinese economy, the official said.

“If you’re talking about diversifying … your supply chain, you’re basically saying I don’t want 100% dependence on critical components anywhere in the world. That’s not specifically targeted at China,” the official said.

Yellen raised concerns with Chinese officials during her visit about what she called punitive actions against U.S. firms and China’s recent move to restrict exports of gallium and germanium, two critical minerals used to make semiconductors.

That move was “perhaps the clearest example one can have of why we talk about building diversified and secure supply chains,” the official said, adding U.S. officials were still trying to understand exactly how that action would be put in place.

Yellen would also work with Vietnamese officials on U.S. concerns about Vietnam’s currency practices, the official said, lauding Vietnam’s “constructive dialogue” on the issues.

“Secretary Yellen will highlight this progress during her visit to Vietnam as one example of how our countries can work together to address challenges and help enhance Vietnam’s financial and macroeconomic resilience,” Treasury said.

Yellen would hold a news conference on July 16, ahead of the G20 meeting, as well as bilateral meetings with officials from India and the European Union, Treasury said.

In Vietnam, she will meet with Vietnamese finance officials and central bankers, as well as the economic commissioner from the Vietnamese Communist party, Treasury said.

She will also participate in a lunch with women economists, following on similar meetings she has held in Japan, South Korea and China, and take part in a female leadership conference hosted by Foreign Trade University, Treasury said.



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