Background Press Call by a Senior Administration Official on President Biden’s Third Day in Europe
9:10 A.M. CEST
MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. It’s [moderator]. We’ll go ahead and get started. I know the time is limited.
So this call is on background, attributable to a “senior administration official.” And for your awareness and not for reporting, our speaker today is [senior administration official]. We just have a couple of things at the top. And then, hopefully, we can take some questions and go from there.
And then, as a reminder, after the G7 ends, we’re going to head to Madrid for NATO, and Jake and Karine are going to be gaggling on the record on the plane then as well.
So, [senior administration official], over to you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [moderator], and thanks, everyone, for joining. I’ll keep this short and take a few questions.
A couple of notes up at the top on some new commitments being made and then happy to hear from you.
First, the G7 will commit to contribute up to $5 billion to address global food security, over half of which will come from the United States. President Biden will commit $2.76 billion in additional U.S. government funding to support efforts in over 47 countries and regional organizations.
Of that $2.76 billion, $2 billion will go to help save lives through direct humanitarian interventions, and $760 million of that will be for sustainable near-term and medium-term food assistance to help enhance the resilience and productivity of food systems around the world, particularly in vulnerable regions.
Obviously, Putin’s actions have been at the core and the thing from which you can draw a direct line to all of the vulnerability that we’re seeing around the world, in terms of food security.
His actions have strangled food and agriculture production, have used food as a weapon of war, including through the destruction of agricultural storage, processing, and testing facilities; the theft of grain and farm equipment; and the effective blockade of Black Sea ports.
Estimates suggest that up to 40 million people could be pushed into poverty in 2022 as a result of Putin’s war in Ukraine and its secondary effects, most especially around food security around the globe. This is just one piece of our efforts, and we are committed to do everything we can both as the United States and the G7 to work with partners around the world to address this.
Secondly, the G7 has also had very productive set of conversations on China and other 21st century challenges. Some examples, I think, you’ll see in the communiqué when it’s released today.
One, you’ll see leaders release a collective statement, which is unprecedented in the context of the G7, acknowledging the harms caused by China’s non-transparent, market-distorting industrial directives. The leaders will commit to working together to develop a coordinated approach to remedy China’s non-market practices to help ensure a level playing field for businesses and workers.
Leaders will also speak to China’s role in leaving, in particular, low- and middle-income countries in debt traps. That’s also a first for the G7.
And the G7 will commit to accelerate progress to tackle forced labor, with the goal of removing all forms of forced labor from global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labor, such as in Xinjiang. We will commit to take further measures to strengthen cooperation, including through increased transparency and other measures to address forced labor globally.
The final G7 communiqué will be out later today, around the time the President heads to Spain for NATO. A consistent theme that will carry over from the G7 to NATO is our commitment not just to the transatlantic alliance but also to our focus on the Indo-Pacific.
We believe that these two are linked, as you saw with Japan at the G7 launching the infrastructure partnership, joining our aggressive sanctions, and the G7 coming together to call out harmful practices of China that impact Europe and the Indo-Pacific.
President Biden looks forward to seeing Indo-Pacific leaders at NATO for the first time, including when he will attend a trilateral meeting with President Yoon of the Republic of Korea and Prime Minister Kishida of Japan to follow up on their conversations in Seoul and Tokyo last month and confer on issues related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
There will be a lot more to come on the NATO trip. And I’m happy now to take a few questions. Thanks.
MODERATOR: Great. If anyone has any questions, could you please raise your hand?
All right. Let’s go to Shannon Pettypiece from NBC, please.
Q Hi. On the food security announcement — just real quick — over what time period is that funding for? And where would that money be coming from?
And also around the food issue, have there been any discussions among the leaders about trying to get the grain out of Ukraine using, like, an intermediary country? I know there was talk about that before the meeting. Has that come up — like any proposed ideas about getting the grain stuck in Ukraine out?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. So, with respect to the commitment from the United States and the President, that $2.76 billion comes from the second Ukraine supplemental. That is money that will be allocated and delivered before the end of this fiscal year. So it’s new money. It’s meant for immediate action. And those are new commitments from the United States to address the food security challenge.
To your second point, obviously, getting grain out of Ukraine to global markets is at the very top of the list of priorities that leaders have, with respect to addressing the food security challenge.
Obviously, Ukraine is a extremely important global grain producer and exporter, and the shortfalls in global markets as a result of Ukraine’s grain not being on global markets, and indeed those pressures even becoming more acute as Ukraine reaches harvest season, are, if anything, increasing the focus that G7 leaders have on this issue.
I think it’s fair to say that leaders were focused on discussing a range of approaches to addressing the issue of how to get — how to facilitate Ukraine’s grain to global markets. I don’t have anything specific to add in terms of particular pathways or routes and assessments of them.
MODERATOR: All right. Let’s do Paolo Mastrolilli, please. Can you ask your question?
Q Yes. Thank you very much for the briefing. I would like to ask if after the price cap on oil is the U.S. willing to consider also a price cap for Russian natural gas? Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So the U.S. focus has been on oil. You know, I think that our belief is that this is a step that G7 leaders can take right now to get aligned around a set of objectives that’s going to both limit Putin’s revenues and squeeze the resources that he has to wage war and, secondly, to increase stability and the security of supply in global oil markets.
Leaders — I think you’ll see in the communiqué later today — are going to task ministers to work urgently towards developing — consulting with third countries and the private sector in an effort to develop a price cap around oil. And we look forward to the work that ministers do urgently in the days, weeks ahead.
MODERATOR: All right, let’s do our last question to Jessica Ni, please. Could you ask your question?
Q Yes. Thank you for doing this. Last year, the communiqué had some language on peace and security in Taiwan Strait. Just wondering, would there be the same this year? And also, about the language on China, can we expect it to be stronger than last year or just about the same? Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for that question. I think that you will see very similar language in this year’s communiqué around the Indo-Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait. And secondly, with respect to the language on China, the economic practices, forced-labor practices, debt sustainability and China’s role in hampering efforts to enhance debt sustainability for lower-income countries, I think you’re going to see material steps forward across each of those dimensions versus the G7 statement last year, which was unprecedented in its own right by virtue of calling out China’s economic behavior for the first time at the G7 level.
So, yeah, I expect, across each of those dimensions relative to last year, to see some steps forward.
MODERATOR: Great. Thanks, everyone, for joining. As a reminder: call was on background, attributable to a “senior administration official,” and the embargo lifts after this call ends. Thanks.
9:20 A.M. CEST