Did the G8 deliver in Genoa?

IssueSeptember - November 2001
News by Alison Marshall

On third world debt we hoped the G8 would call on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to cancel 100% of the debts of the highly indebted poor countries (HIPC). Even if we didn't get this “new deal on debt” we hoped for reform of the HIPC Initiative to give more debt relief, to more countries, more quickly. At the least we hoped for assistance for indebted countries suffering from oil price shocks. However we were shocked to find that the G8's final communique promised nothing new on debt at all. On trade we hoped for new market access opportunities for exports from developing countries, and commitment to review, repair and reform the World Trade Organisation (WTO) before negotiations on any new agreements are launched. Instead the G8 gave trade liberalisation a hard sell as a panacea for the poor and pushed for an “ambitious” new Round of negotiations to be launched at the Ministerial meeting in Qatar, in November.

Kofi Annan launched his Global Health Fund for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in April, calling for $7-10 billion a year. We hoped the G8 would make substantial commitments and agree a sound management structure. They managed to pledge $1.3 billion over a number of years, falling far short of what is needed. And the management structure remains undecided with fears that its “public private partnership” nature could lead to undue influence from pharmaceutical multi-nationals.

Overall overseas development aid from the G8 has been declining. We hoped for a reversal of this trend and progress towards the UN target of 0.7% of GNP from each country. The G8 did agree to “untie” aid, so it is no longer linked to contracts in donor countries, but they did not offer any more money, merely platitudes about increasing effectiveness.

In Genoa African leaders presented their ambitious forward plan, covering peace/security, governance, human development, infrastructure, diversification etc. The G8 merely agreed to “support African efforts to resolve African problems” and to work towards a “concrete action plan” to be announced at next year's summit.

All eyes will be on Canada in June 2002!

Topics: Global justice