Latin America asks the UN to strengthen multilateralism in the face of the pandemic

The Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterated before the United Nations that the region is ready to take extraordinary measures to improve the economy
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AFP/YURI CORTEZ  -   A man wears a face mask against the spread of the new coronavirus while waiting to enter a bank

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) called this Thursday, before the United Nations General Assembly (UN), for the strengthening of multilateralism to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and what will follow.

The Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, from the pro tempore presidency that Mexico holds in CELAC, reiterated before the United Nations that the region is ready to take extraordinary measures to improve the economy, social welfare and hope for the future.

"We are experiencing a crisis that has not been seen so far this century, where the participation of the UN will be crucial, as it has been until now, so that we can combine efforts at a global level," said Ebrard in a video message.

In addition, he said that "there are many imperatives due to economic competition or political reasons, but without doubt overcoming the pandemic and what will follow (...) is going to require great global coordination, a strengthening of multilateralism and a limitation of seeing each one for his own thing". "There will not be a solution (to the pandemic) if we do not combine our efforts (...) because the less cooperation there is, the less capacity there will be to meet the expectations and demands of our society," he said.

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AFP/JOSÉ SÁNCHEZ - Sale of medical products in Guayaquil (Ecuador)

He warned that the economic crisis that the coronavirus will leave "will be significant, and in the case of Latin America and the Caribbean there will be at least an unprecedented nine-point drop in gross domestic product (GDP)", in a conservative scenario, and that "it is likely to be a little more".

Furthermore, poverty in the region will increase by nearly 38 percent "with respect to the numbers we had before the pandemic," which should be thought of in terms of gender "where the issue of inequality will be even more acute," the Mexican minister warned.

In response, he called for a "great multilateral effort," which implies that the most developed countries decide and commit themselves so that there is a transfer of resources.

Economic recovery programmes should not be limited to those chosen by each country "only in accordance with its own economic power".

Celac believes, in the words of the Mexican foreign minister, that an agreement must be reached on the countries' existing debts and that "beyond the interest relief, more fundamental measures are needed to reduce the debt burden, which will be even more relevant for the poorest countries".

Also, new financial instruments should be designed or existing ones used differently so that the interest rates that low- and middle-income countries are working with can be reduced.

Celac promotes the integration of its 33 Latin American and Caribbean member countries following its foundation ten years ago in Playa del Carmen, in the Mexican Caribbean.