Thursday, July 09, 2009

The G-8 talks about aid

In the G-8 meeting in Italy the world's eight biggest economies opened the table to other emerging economies. The invites are seen by many as admission that the eight countries alone cannot solve all the worlds problems.

Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa pressed the G-8 on reopening the Doha round of global trade talks. The hope is that a free trade agreement that removes barriers would open more markets to the goods of the under-developed world.

For the focus of our snippet, this Associated Press article tells us what the G-8 said about aid to the underdeveloped world. Writer Colleen Barry made the trip to Italy.

On the issue of aid, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday that the leaders have decided they need to change the way they help Africa, and introduce a mechanism of accountability to review efforts.

"We want our funds to go to precise investments, schools, buildings and so on," Berlusconi told reporters.

On the issue of aid, Berlusconi has said the G-8 was looking into establishing an agricultural development fund for Africa, to shift away from giving handouts to the poor to helping them grow their own food.

Italy has been under intense criticism going into the G-8 summit for having maintained only 3 percent of its aid pledges of $3.5 billion to Africa made at a 2005 G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. The G-8 at that time promised to increase aid to sub-Saharan Africa by US$25 billion a year by 2010.

Berlusconi has acknowledged Italy's failure to respect its Glenagles aid pledges, but has said it only was a delay and that he had no other choice but to cut aid because of Italy's mounting debts and the global financial crisis.

"I'm sorry we didn't keep our promises," he said in an interview over the weekend with Bob Geldof, musician and head of the anti-poverty group ONE, which has shamed Italy for its poor performance.

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