U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says the Biden-led administration is keen on supporting efforts of countries to recover from economic downturns caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Blinken made this known during a virtual interview with newsmen as part of his activities of virtual visit to Africa on Tuesday where he also met with President Muhammadu Buhari and President Uhuru Kenyata of Kenya.
”The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major dual crisis; a health crisis and an economic crisis and U.S President, Joe Biden is keen on supporting countries bounce back better,” Blinken said. He said that the U.S government has supported with facilities to restructure debt, looking at supporting programmes. “We have had this dual crisis, a health crisis and an economic crisis, and there too, unless and until we find ways to support efforts of countries around the world.
“And economies around the world to bounce back economically from COVID, we won’t have fully addressed the problem either. And by the way, that’s also in our interest, because we want strong trading partners, we want strong investment partners, and it makes sense to make sure that we’re doing what we can to be helpful. And as we’re looking at this, I think there are a number of things that are important. We’ve supported, for example, facilities to restructure debt, because as countries emerge from the economic crisis with debt obligations, that can be challenging in normal times. It’s incredibly more challenging if you’re in the midst of or emerging from the economic downturn that was the result of COVID. So we are very strongly supportive of flexibility there, restructuring there.
“We’re looking at a variety of other support programs. And as well, I think being able to move forward with trade, with investment, with partnerships, that too is going to make difference”, Blinken said.
Blinken said it is also best to take advantage of the moment with real opportunities that would help in recovery of economies. I also think we have to, as we are doing this, try to take advantage of the moment as well. There is a necessity, but there is also some real opportunity. President Biden talks about this in terms of building back better. How do we make new investments in our economies, as we are working together. How do we do it in a way that promotes greater equity? How do we do it in a way that actually advances the effort to combat climate change? And there, there may be real opportunities in terms of, for example, green technology that can actually create and sustain good, strong jobs.
All of these things are on the agenda and we’re looking at them, I think, together very creatively both in our bilateral relationships but also multilaterally, including through the international financial institutions”, Blinken added. Responding to questions on strict visa procedures in Nigeria that has limited a lot of Nigerians to getting visas, Blinken said the Biden Administration have removed some strict restrictions placed by the previous administrations. Blinken said that appropriate legal foundations to ease immigration policies are already in place but moving forward, the U.S government is also mindful of the COVID-19 challenges and how it affects travel. “With regard to visas, et cetera, we are also doing two things. We removed from the books some of the restrictions put in place by the previous administration, so the appropriate legal foundation is there.
“But we also now, in moving forward, have to be very mindful of the challenges we all face, including the fact that COVID-19 is still with us. And so we all want to get back to travel quickly, to trade quickly, to enabling legal migration, but we have to do it in a way that is cognizant of the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. So that it is safe and secure, and we make sure we’re at a place where we can do that with the virus under control, so that we don’t risk regenerating it and creating another cycle. So all of that we’re factoring in in a very practical way to our ability to move forward with travel as well as with immigration”, Blinked added.