“What will it take for G8 leaders to take poverty seriously?” Hilary said. “The G8’s trade policies, arms exports and military adventures have condemned millions to poverty over the past 30 years. A quarter of a million people hit the streets of Edinburgh and demanded a new start. Yet still the G8 leaders have failed to deliver.”
Alongside the 225,000 people who marched in Edinburgh, 360,000 MPH supporters emailed Tony Blair demanding trade justice, more and better aid and 100% unconditional debt relief. Further, 9.3 million people in the UK alone are wearing white Make Poverty History wristbands, the international symbol of the movement.
The G8 statement on trade released in Gleneagles is a calculated attempt to divert attention from developed countries’ aggressive agenda at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. Despite the development-friendly language in today’s G8 statement, both the EU and USA have launched new campaigns at the WTO to force open the manufacturing and services sectors of developing countries’ economies for the benefit of their own companies. This is a direct rejection of Make Poverty History’s call for trade justice.
The G8 have also failed to answer the call from developing countries to eliminate their destructive farm subsidies. Despite pleas for an end date for export subsidies made in person at Gleneagles by the leaders of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, the G8 have stonewalled again. This leaves little hope for the all-important trade negotiations at the WTO later this year.
The G8 announcement of a $50bn increase in aid is less than 20% of what MPH has called for. Currently, across the G8 countries, aid levels stand at $56.7bn – just 0.21% of their collective GNI. MPH campaigners called on the G8 to reach the UN’s 0.7% target by 2010 at the latest, which would require an extra $125bn annually on current figures alone (i.e. without factoring in projected GNI growth rates for the next five years). Along with the United Nations, the MPH coalition has also called for $50bn of new aid in 2006.
Instead, the G8 have responded with a package of $50bn composed of $35bn in ‘old’ money (pledges already made before 2005) and only $15bn of new money, to be delivered only by 2010. This is far too little, far too late.
The G8 deal confirms debt cancellation to 18 countries in a package totalling $40bn, with the possibility of further countries being included in future. The $40bn package translates into just over $1bn in saved debt repayments which these countries will no longer have to make to the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank each year. Yet this is well short of the $45.7bn in annual repayments which would be released if the G8 included all countries which need 100% debt cancellation to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Even calculating for multilateral debt alone, the package offered represents barely 10% of Make Poverty History’s demand.
In addition, the countries in line for debt cancellation are required to have ‘qualified’ by virtue of meeting harmful economic conditions under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) process, which includes sweeping programmes of trade liberalisation and privatisation. These programmes have in turn been shown to cause increased poverty – undermining the positive potential of debt cancellation. While we welcome the debt relief won by the 18 HIPC completion countries, therefore, we call now for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the debts of all the world’s poorest nations.
Notes to Editors:
War on Want is a member of the Make Poverty History coalition of over 500 organisations. MPH is the UK arm of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP).
For details and interviews with War on Want representatives in Gleneagles, call John Coventry on 07905 397 084, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
War on Want