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Press Conference by Secretary-General António Guterres at United Nations Headquarters

Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ press conference with Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada and Andrew Holness of Jamaica on the high-level event on financing for development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond, in New York today:

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-GeneralI’m delighted to be joined by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, as well as His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.  Just before we start, a reminder to all the journalists, please mute your microphones, and we will start with some opening remarks, and then we will take a number of questions.  So, Secretary-General, sir, you have the floor.

Secretary-General:  Hello, everyone.  Good afternoon, good evening, or goodnight.  Today’s high-level event was a meeting of solidarity with the many developing countries that face catastrophic consequences from COVID-19.  The pandemic continues to cause deep suffering.  More than 350,000 people have died; there are 5.5 million cases around the world.  Behind these figures there is an unprecedented human tragedy.

The crisis is taking a devastating toll on economies.  It is having a particularly dramatic impact on families and communities in developing countries that have fewer resources and weaker social safety nets.  Since the pandemic began, I have pushed for a relief package amounting to a double-digit percentage — more than 10 per cent — of the global economy.  Developed countries have announced their own relief packages, because they can.  But, we have not yet seen enough solidarity with developing countries to provide them with the massive and urgent support they need.

Today, I am encouraged to see 50 Heads of State and Government, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Institute for International Finance, the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], the special envoys of the United Nations and the African Union and others — the largest gathering of leaders since the pandemic began — coming together around joint solutions to the crisis.

Working groups will now consider six areas for urgent action with the first reporting to a ministerial meeting at the end of July:

First, finding ways to enhance global liquidity so that developing countries have the resources they need to fight the pandemic.

Second, preventing debt crises in all countries at risk, including middle-income countries.  Such crises risk undermining both the COVID-19 response and sustainable development for years to come.

Third, engaging with private creditors on joint debt‑relief efforts.

Fourth, aligning global financial systems with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Fifth, ending illicit financial flows.

And sixth, rebuilding differently, and better.

Everything we do must be aimed at enabling developing countries to fight the pandemic, while keeping their communities, businesses and economies afloat.

Our world is afflicted by enormous fragilitiesweak health systems; runaway climate change; unsustainable levels of inequality.  We see other signs of this fragility everywhere, from the increasing risk of nuclear proliferation to the lawlessness of cyberspace.

Ignoring these warning signs is senseless arrogance.  Existential threats demand humility, unity and solidarity.  We cannot contemplate a return to the same failed priorities and systems.  We must invest in a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

Too often, speed and greed have triumphed over compassion, solidarity and humanity.  This pandemic is reminding us that the important things in life require investment — in people, in physical and mental well-being, in protecting our environment and in combating inequalities, including gender inequality.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change address precisely the failures that are being exposed and exploited by COVID‑19.  I want to thank my co-hosts, Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Andrew Holness, whose countries co-chair the Group of Friends of Sustainable Development.

And I thank all those who have come together in solidarity today to work together on a different and better world for our children and generations to come.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, Secretary-General.  It is now my great pleasure to give the floor to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness.  Sir, you have the floor.

Prime Minister Holness:  Thank you.  As you have seen from the widespread participation at today’s meeting, the international community is united and committed to taking the action required to mount a robust and coordinated response to the devastating economic and human impacts of COVID-19.

Over 50 Heads of State and Government responded to our invitation to participate at this High-Level Event.  It is fitting that the UN has taken the initiative as our co-convenor in this regard, as it comprises the broadest and most inclusive range of countries of any international organization.

By leveraging its convening power, the UN and its Member States have today launched a partnership with key stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society.  Our aim is to facilitate a process to devise concrete solutions to the development emergency that stems from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we heard today, there is general agreement that our response to this pandemic will require a large-scale, comprehensive multilateral effort.  We are determined to support countries, particularly those most in need.  Our goal is to not only relieve the hardship they are currently experiencing, but to enable them to recover better.

By recovering better, we mean that countries vulnerable to systemic shock must be made more resilient, from an economic, social and environmental standpoint.  Our overarching objective is to create the conditions for sustainable, just, inclusive economies and societies.

After all, this is the collective endeavour to which we all committed in 2015.  We remain focused on achieving the SDGs and in implementing the NDCs [nationally determined contributions] we agreed to under the Paris climate accord.  The next stage in this process involves the work that will be undertaken by the six thematic working groups that has been established.

These groups will comprise representatives of Government, international financial institutions and other key actors.  Their mandate will be to build on the ideas that emerged from today’s discussions, with a view to developing concrete solutions to address the crisis.  They will report to us, the three co‑convenors, on three occasions throughout the rest of this yearin July during the High-level Political Forum, in mid-September at the opening of the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly and in mid-December.  With that said, I look forward to your questions.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, Prime Minister.  I now give the floor to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Thank you.  First, I want to thank my co-hosts, Secretary-General Guterres and Prime Minister Holness of Jamaica.  I also want to thank everyone who joined us today for this important discussion.

We brought together not just over 50 world leaders, but private sector actors and representatives from bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank because every single one of us will have a key role to play on the road to global recovery.

Pour assurer la sécurité des Canadiens et vaincre la COVID-19 pour de bon, on doit regarder au-delà de nos frontières.  On doit se rappeler que la COVID-19 n’est pas seulement une crise sanitaire, mais une crise économique d’envergure mondiale.  Le Canada est un pays commerçant avec des liens familiaux partout dans le monde.

On comprend que nos emplois, nos entreprises, nos travailleurs, notre économie dépendent en partie d’une économie mondiale en bonne santé.  Et en pleine pandémie, on ne peut pas fermer les yeux sur le monde dans lequel on vit.

We can’t forget about the most vulnerable, whether that’s people far away who are struggling, or people in the Caribbean who have been among the hardest hit.  The global pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for our modern world, but it’s also a unique opportunity to adjust our international institutions, so that they are more fit for purpose.

Today, we began a conversation on how we can emerge from this global crisis as a stronger and more cohesive world.  We are forming six discussion groups to submit concrete proposals by mid-July on the path forward.

Groups will strive to:

  • Protect the progress we’ve made in international development by expanding liquidity and maintaining financial stability in the global economy;
  • Save lives and livelihoods for billions around the world by helping developing countries deal with debt vulnerabilities;
  • Encourage private sector creditors to be part of the solution;
  • Enhance external finance and remittances to create growth and jobs;
  • Prevent illicit financial flows to expand fiscal space and encourage domestic resource mobilization;
  • Ensure a sustainable and inclusive recovery by aligning policies with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Spokesman:  The first question will go to a Canadian journalist, Catherine Levesque.  Please, you have the floor.  Catherine?  And please tell us who you are asking a question to.  Thank you.

Question:  Yes.  Hi.  My questions will be in French for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Bonjour M.  Trudeau, deux questions.  Tout d’abord, Québec a demandé de prolonger l’aide des militaires en CHSLD jusqu’au mois de Septembre.  Votre ministre de la Défense a dit que ce ne sera pas possible avec la même intensité jusqu’à ce moment-là.  [Inaudible] qu’on doit comprendre sur vos intentions, allez-vous prolonger la mission avec les niveaux actuels et que répondez-vous à François Legault qui se montre inquiet et qui vient de faire remarquer que le Québec paye sa part pour l’Armée? In English please, as well.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Évidemment le gouvernement du Canada et les Forces armées vont être là pour aider les canadiens en difficulté, c’est pour ça qu’on était allés pour aider dans les CHSLD aux Québec, et on va continuer le travail.  Comme on a vu dans le rapport, le travail que font nos militaires est extraordinaire et très important.  J’ai hâte d’entreprendre des conversations avec le premier ministre sur les prochaines étapes.  Nous allons évidemment être là pour continuer à aider, mais comme j’ai dit depuis le début, ce n’est pas des solutions à long-terme d’avoir des soldats dans nos CHSLD, c’est une mesure intérimaire et on veut regarder comment on peut passer à une autre étape pour que le Québec puisse prendre en contrôle la situation directement.

As we know, it was important for the federal Government and the armed forces to be there in our long-term care centres where they were needed because of the COVID-19 crisis.  But, as I said from the beginning, it is not a long-term solution, it is a stop-gap measure that is there to help out because our armed forces have the fundamental role of serving Canada and protecting Canadians, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.  I look forward to continuing conversations with Premier Legault on next steps, but obviously we are very much hoping that Québec is going to be able to get the situation under control, but we will be there to help them while they do.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  [Inaudible]?

Question:  Merci beaucoup.  Do I have a follow-up?

Spokesman:  Go ahead, just a quick follow-up, please.

Question:  Yes, absolutely.  Concernant cette décision sur Meng Wanzhou, le Canada a besoin de la Chine pour fournir de l’équipement médicale [inaudible] entre autres, craignez-vous des répercussions [inaudible] de cette nature à cause de cette décision, et des représailles [inaudible] les deux canadiens [inaudible] en Chine?  Autrement dit, le Canada va-t-il payer le prix pour cette décision judiciaire?  In English, as well, thank you.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Comme vous savez très bien, notre système judiciaire est indépendant et notre système a pris une décision dans le cas de Meng Wanzhou.  Nous évidemment n’avons pas et n’allons pas interférer dans le processus judiciaire indépendant au Canada, mais je dois souligner qu’il y a d’autres étapes pour Mme Meng à l’intérieur du processus et de notre système judiciaire.  Nous allons continuer de défendre et de stresser l’importance de… de renvoyer au Canada les deux canadiens détenus de façon arbitraire.  Nous allons toujours défendre les intérêts des canadiens et nos valeurs en même temps.

We have an independent judicial system that has rendered a judgment without any political interference, obviously.  There are a number of further legal steps available to Ms. Meng that she will undoubtedly avail herself of, but the political side of our Government has no interference in our judicial system, obviously.  We will continue to advocate for the release of the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China, and I take this opportunity to thank the international community for standing so strongly with Canada in this situation.  We will continue to defend our interests and our values.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, Prime Minister.  We will now go to a Jamaican journalist, if I can ask Earl Moxam to please take the floor.  Thank you.  Earl, if you can open up your microphone?  Earl, we will come back to you.  Let’s go to Valeria Robecco, President of the UN Correspondents Association.  Valeria, you have the floor.  Thank you.

Question:  Thank you.  Thank you, Stéphane.  And thank you all for the summit.  My question is to the Secretary‑General.  Secretary‑General, have you already identified any specific coordination measures with the European authorities on their response programme?  Thank you.  And it’s always a pleasure to have you speaking with us.

Secretary-General:  We have a very close coordination with the European Union.  And by the way, the European Union was very strongly involved, as you have seen by the Commission and the Member States in these discussions today.  And they announced a new very important initiative that is very much in line with our objectives.  It is clear that it is essential that the European Union not only manages and they… very important measures have been approved in order to boost liquidity internally and to support European countries to be able to address the challenges of the economic and social impact of the virus.

But, today, we had the opportunity to hear the European Union and several European leaders considering that we need to boost liquidity in relation to the developing countries to increase the firepower of the World Bank, the IMF, other financial institutions, including through the issuance or the use of special drawing rights.  We have seen European countries very committed also to the question of debt relief and making a strong appeal also for the participation of the private sector, and we have seen European countries totally committed to be a backer to a more sustainable and inclusive recovery in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.  So, our cooperation with the European Union is extremely important, and it was present in the event that took place today.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much.  If I can ask Paul Clarke of Jamaica… I know you’ve raised your hand.  Please go ahead and ask your question.  Thank you.  Paul?

Correspondent:  Are you hearing me?

Spokesman:  Yes, go ahead.

Question:  Right.  This question is to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.  Prime Minister, tourism is key to our economic fortunes.  In fact, tourism in the region is a key factor in our development.  Question is, have CARICOM [Caribbean Community] leaders been aggressive in driving at a broad framework on a cohesive streamlined policy or protocol for travel in the region known to be highly tourism‑dependent, coming out of this COVID situation?

Prime Minister Holness:  Paul, I thank you for that question.  As Prime Minister Trudeau pointed out, for this region, we have been hard hit by the pandemic, more so from the economic fallout than the health situation.  But, we are doing a delicate balancing act between lives and livelihood, and I believe all Caribbean Governments, particularly those members of CARICOM, have done exceptionally well in striking that balance.

I think we are generally now at the point where we have to figure out how we re‑open our economies to tourism and travel generally.  CARICOM has been working together to develop the new protocols that will define the new normal of travel.  These protocols probably won’t be much different from what other countries would have to do, but as a group, I think there is a general understanding as to what the future of travel will look like.

Some countries have already indicated dates when they intend to open up their borders.  Jamaica is working assiduously to put in place protocols to have this done as quickly as possible.  As you have said, tourism is the lifeblood of many of our economies.  We are probably the most dependent area in the world on tourism.  So, it is just a matter of how fast we can put in place the protocols to support the new way of travelling in the post‑COVID era.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, Prime Minister.  We’ll now go to Mike Blanchfield of Canadian Press.  Mike Blanchfield, you can now open up your microphone.

Correspondent:  Yes.  Hello.  It’s Mike Blanchfield of The Canadian Press.  My question is for the Secretary‑General and the Canadian Prime Minister.  Can you hear me?

Spokesman:  Go ahead.

Question:  Yes.  So my question… and if you could both give your answers in French, if at all possible.  I have one question and one follow‑up.  My question is:  Is it fair and wise to ask people whose Governments are taking on unprecedented levels of debt to sustain their own economies to take on even more debt for other countries’ economies, as well?

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Thank you, Mike, for your question.  I think we all understand that this is a global crisis, and no matter what we do in our own country to control the spread of COVID‑19 and get our economy going, Canada is a trading nation.  We are deeply dependent on how economies around the world are doing, as well.  We are more interconnected as a world than we have ever been, and we cannot just simply look to ourselves and hope everyone does better on their own.

The reality is global capital flows and inequalities have been exacerbated by this COVID‑19 crisis.  Some people have suggested it might be a great leveller, but as we heard during this conference, it has actually exacerbated those differences for vulnerable countries and vulnerable people.  That’s why it’s a time for the world to come together and look at ensuring that we all can come through this.

My friends, like Andrew in the Caribbean, have good economies, are middle‑income countries that don’t normally need the kinds of influx of flows that the most challenged developing countries around the world do; but over the past years, Andrew and I have been working on the fact that exposure to climate change and vulnerability doesn’t necessarily link to income level in the country, and we’ve needed to work together on expanding capital flows and development assistance, and climate change was that first challenge.  This COVID‑19 challenge was the impetus, then, for us to pull together a much larger group to talk about our international financial institutions and the flows and the roles that countries of all sizes and scales have to play in ensuring a solid global economy.  This is something we’ve been working on together for years, and it’s something we need to continue to do.

And Canadians know that the only way through this crisis — and the only way to build a better future for Canadians — is to make sure we’re also doing our part to build a better future for those most vulnerable around the world and our friends and allies at the same time.

Spokesman:  Thank you, sir.  [Inaudible]?

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Sorry.  Can I just answer quickly in French?

Spokesman:  Allez-y.  Pardon.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Merci.  Nous savons au Canada que même si on a à gérer cette crise de façon domestique, il n’y aura pas de solution à moins que l’économie de la planète et la situation de la COVID-19 à l’échelle planétaire soit réglée.  Donc nous nous devons d’être là, d’être présents pour travailler les uns avec les autres, pour assurer que les économies, que le commerce et que la santé des gens, particulièrement dans les pays et les individus les plus vulnérables soient réglés.  Nous sommes tous interconnectés dans ce monde et nous nous devons de travailler ensemble pour adresser ces enjeux.

Spokesman:  Merci, monsieur premier minister.  Secrétaire general?

Secretary-General:  Merci de votre question.  La communauté internationale a très tôt reconnu qu’il fallait suspendre pendant une certaine période les paiements de la dette des pays les moins développés.  Et bien, aujourd’hui, il y a un consensus qu’il faut aller plus loin, qu’il y a un grand nombre de pays en développement et même des pays à revenus moyens -et les Caraïbes donnent des exemples particulièrement évidents- qui n’ont pas aujourd’hui l’accès aux marchés financiers qui leur permettent de servir la dette.  Alors, il faut des mesures premièrement de suspension mais probablement suivies de mesures de réduction avec naturellement une solidarité qui soit basée sur les besoins, sur la transparence et sur une évaluation réaliste des différentes situations qui sont sur le terrain.  Mais c’est évident qu’il y a une solidarité internationale accrue en matière de dette qui est nécessaire et ça a été bien reconnu aujourd’hui.

It is very clear from our perspective that the international community has very early in time recognized that the payments related to the debt of the least developed countries need to be suspended until the end of the year.  It is now clear that we need more, that many developing countries and some middle‑income countries have no access to financial markets, and they have no capacity to serve their debts and so that they need also a standstill and a well‑established programme of debt relief and a structural approach to the debt questions globally.

And I think it was also clear in the discussions we had today that this is not only an effort for the public sector; it’s an effort in which it’s important that the private creditors are also involved, and there was a very important and meaningful dialogue during today about that with distinguished representatives from the private sector.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary‑General.  We’ll now go to James Bays…

Question:  A follow‑up?

Spokesman:  Oh, yeah.  Sorry, Mike.  A quick follow‑up, but, please, very quick.

Question:  Yeah, directed to… in both languages, as well, to the Secretary‑General and the Prime Minister.  The Security Council has been unable to find solutions to numerous crises because of basic disagreements among its five permanent members.  What can a country such as Canada do as a temporary member of the Council to address this?

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Thank you, Mike.  We’ve actually seen the E10, the elected 10 members of the UN Security Council, demonstrate an ability to pull together and to bring about positions of compromise when the P5 are deadlocked.  It is obviously not easy, but it is a situation where countries that can convene together groups of large [inaudible] are significant in their role of trying to advance common goals around security.  Canada has a long tradition of convening, of gathering people together to deal with larger issues, and that is certainly a role we hope to play on the UN Security Council.

We demonstrated today, on an issue that we have been working on over the past five years in terms of development, financing and improving economic flows to countries in need, that this is something that we can gather critical masses of consensus around the world.

C’est important de reconnaître à quel point les membres élus du Conseil de sécurité peuvent travailler ensemble et créer des consensus autour des enjeux importants pour la planète.  Évidemment il y a de temps en temps des défis entre les membres permanents, comme on voit maintenant, mais les pays élus ont un rôle important à jouer pour établir des consensus et les marches à suivre.  C’est quelque chose que le Canada a toujours su faire et qu’on est en train de démontrer encore une fois aujourd’hui.  Et ce travail qui se fait depuis plusieurs années, y compris lors de notre G7 à Charlevoix, où on avait invité plusieurs petits états insulaires pour parler justement de cet enjeu.  Nous allons continuer de travailler pour bâtir des consensus à travers le monde et ça a un impact sur le Conseil de sécurité.

Secretary-General:  I, of course, agree with the Prime Minister.  I would say I have never seen the Council work being paralysed by elected members.

Je n’ai jamais vu le travail du Conseil paralysé par les membres élus.

Spokesman:  Thank you… sorry.  Thank you very much, Secretary‑General.  We’ll go to James Bays of Al Jazeera.  James, you have the floor.

Question:  Steph, James Bays, Al Jazeera.  Secretary‑General, first, can I ask you about some of the nations that didn’t speak today, some of the most powerful nations, the US and China, for example?  If everyone doesn’t get behind your efforts, is it likely that your global goals, your SDGs, will be derailed?

And if I can ask a second question about another pressing, important issue of the day, one that Prime Minister Trudeau’s already released a statement about, so he may want to give his views, but are you concerned about the new security law for Hong Kong?  And is it a breach of the joint declaration of 1984, a treaty which is deposited with you at the UN?

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, today, I do not intend to move into areas that are far from what we are discussing today, because I don’t want to divert attention from something that is very important — the solidarity with the developing world in relation to the challenges, the economic and social challenges, of the COVID‑19.

And in relation to that specific last question, my Spokesperson has already spoken yesterday or the day before.  But, I would like to say…

Correspondent:  He said no comment.  He didn’t have a comment.

Secretary-General:  Both US and China participated in our work.  Of course, this was decided because of the very high participation that it could be only at the level of Heads of State and Government and both countries, for reasons of agenda, could not do that at that level, but they would be ready to participate at other level.  But, they will be engaged in the Working Group.  So, there is a commitment both from the United States and China to be involved in this process, which we very much welcome.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Maria Khrenova from ITAR‑TASS.  Maria?

Question:  Yeah.  Thank you, Steph.  So, part of my question was already asked by my Canadian colleague, but, anyway, a question to Secretary‑General.  Mr. Secretary-General, how could you comment on what seems to be a growing concern between two permanent Security Council members, the United States and China?  What do you do to overcome this difficulty which already affect the ability of the Security Council to support your call for a ceasefire and influence other topics in Security Council agenda?  And maybe the Canadian Prime Minister would have something to add as Canada is going to become a non‑permanent member of the Security Council.  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  As I’ve said several times, if the present crisis shows something is of fragility, collective fragility, when we are fragile, we should be humble.  When we are humble, we should be united and in solidarity.  We need unity and solidarity everywhere and also in the Security Council.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Prime Minister Trudeau?

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Yes.  I think one of the most important things that COVID‑19 has shown us but as previous challenges in recent years have shown us, whether it’s climate change or otherwise, is the world needs to work together, and that’s where multilateralism becomes more important than ever before.  Canada is a country that is large enough to be able to work to pull people together, but small enough to know that we can never do things on our own, and that has led Canada to be involved in very constructive ways on the world stage.

Yes, we are running for a seat as a non‑permanent member of the UN Security Council for the next two years, but for us, it’s not in itself a goal to be on the UNSC.  It is a means, a means to continue important dialogue in support of multilateralism, continue to convene countries around the world on the big and important issues that we’re dealing with.  It is something that we believe in deeply, have believed in for decades and look forward to continuing this work regardless of what happens on the UNSC election phase.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much.  One last question from Pam Falk at CBS News.  Pam?

Question:  Thank you very much, Steph.  Thank you to the briefers.  It’s Pamela Falk from CBS News.  Appreciated all of the events and the briefing.  My question first is to the Secretary‑General, and that is, we heard from your relief chief today, saying that if money doesn’t come through for Yemen, the… I think the words he used were it could fall off a cliff.  So, I’d like you to address if you believe the money is, in fact, coming through from the international community.

And to the Prime Minister — it’s good to see you back, not at Headquarters, but at least virtually — the… Canada’s… your Governor General, Julie Payette, was on a virtual meeting this morning, saying that the impact on women and children of coronavirus has been very harsh.  Can you speak to that and to the fact of whether the border closings between the US, Mexico and Canada play into that?  Thank you so much.

Spokesman:  Sir.  Secretary‑General, please.

Secretary-General:  Well, this was a conference of solidarity with the developing world and especially with the most vulnerable of the countries of the developing world.  There is no country more vulnerable than Yemen.  In Aden, we have the highest mortality rate in the world of COVID‑19.  Seventeen per cent of those that have the disease are dying.  And the situation is absolutely tragic.  There will be a pledging conference soon, and I hope the international community will show full solidarity with the Yemeni people with fully funding the appeal that we’ll be presenting.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Prime Minister Trudeau, and then we’ll go to Prime Minister Holness.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Thank you very much for your question, Pamela.  The reality is that we saw it everywhere around the world.  Among the very first to lose their jobs in this pandemic were women and people in vulnerable sectors.  This is something that has affected women disproportionately.  A number of people are talking about a potential she‑session through this, the world’s first, perhaps.  We need to make sure that we are, in our own societies, supporting the most vulnerable.  That’s why we’ve put forward significant financial supports for families, for communities strongly affected, for small businesses, particularly small businesses owned by women, that are already challenged with access to capital.

On top of that, we’ve seen that the challenges of isolation and self‑isolation can be even greater in situations where it’s not safe at home.  And incidents of domestic violence have risen, which is why we’ve made funding to shelters and programmes that counter domestic violence a priority through this.  There is much, much more to do, but we’ve seen all around the world, both on the global scale and on a domestic scale, that the most vulnerable have been more vulnerabilized [sic] by COVID‑19 and, therefore, we need to work on that.

On the issue of the border with the United States, we’ve come to strong agreements with the US that a continued flow of essential goods in both directions across the border, whether it be medical supplies coming from Canada going to the United States or the other way around or agricultural products going both ways or other essential services, have continued even as we’ve shut down the border to 99 per cent of travel across our borders.  This has been in the interest of both of our countries.  We will continue to work together to make sure that we are keeping Canadians and Americans safe.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much, Prime Minister.  Now, Prime Minister Holness, you have the floor, and I think you’ll have the last word today.  Thank you.

Prime Minister Holness:  Thank you.  I think Prime Minister Trudeau and Secretary‑General Guterres said it very eloquently, that we all have to come together to overcome the pandemic but more so to overcome the economic fallout that is the result of the pandemic.

I think any form of isolation, other than for health reasons, will not serve the global good.  I think now is the time for all countries to seek to cooperate on an economic basis to ensure that we minimize the economic fallout.  Now is the time to pay attention to our vulnerable.  Now is the time to pay attention to those in our society that were normally left behind.

The pandemic, no doubt, has threatened livelihoods; it has threatened lives, but it has also given us an opportunity to rethink the global financial system, rethink how we view vulnerability and how we index vulnerability and to look closely at our global supply chains and the use of technology.  So, as much as the pandemic presented a crisis, it also presented an opportunity which we should embrace for change, recover for the better.

Spokesman:  Prime Minister, thank you very much for closing this press conference.  I also want to thank Prime Minister Trudeau and the Secretary‑General and all of you journalists who have dialled in from all over the world for your patience.  It’s been a long day, but it’s been a good day.  So, thank you very much.

Secretary-General:  Thank you very much, and thank you very much, especially to my co‑hosts.  You were absolutely outstanding and fantastic, and I’m extremely grateful.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Thank you, António.  Thank you all for your questions.

Prime Minister Holness:  Thank you Justin, thank you, Secretary-General.

Prime Minister Trudeau:  Bye, guys.

For information media. Not an official record.