Clock ticking for G8 breakthrough on Africa

Published: 1 November 2005

As G8 negotiations go to the wire, Oxfam warned G8 leaders that time is running out to live up to the expectations of millions around the world and clinch a breakthrough deal for Africa.

As G8 negotiations go to the wire, Oxfam warned G8 leaders that time is running out to live up to the expectations of millions around the world and clinch a breakthrough deal for Africa.

“This is the first time in history that the text of the final G8 communiqué has been up for grabs this late in the game,” said Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy Jo Leadbeater. “There’s still a lot to play for, but so far no sign of that historic breakthrough”.

Aid

  • The G8 must agree to give an extra $50 billion a year in aid to poor countries - with $25 billion for Africa - effective immediately .
  • Delaying these aid increases until 2010 as is on the cards would leave a $100 billion black hole in aid budgets, consigning 500 million more people to poverty.
  • Rich countries must meet the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of their national income on aid by 2010 at the latest. They made this promise 35 years ago.

Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy Jo Leadbeater said: “So far France is in the lead, saying they will reach the 0.7 target by 2012, followed by the UK with 2013, and Germany and Italy with 2015. They’re not moving quickly enough, but at least they’re in race. Canada, the US and Japan aren’t even at the starting line.”

“Rich countries have never been richer, yet they have never given less. They give half as much in aid as they did in 1960. Increasing their aid to the levels needed – as they promised to do in 1970 – would cost them the equivalent of a cup of coffee a week for each of their citizens. The price of not doing it will be measured in millions of lives.”

Trade

  • G8 countries must set a date for phasing out the export subsidies they pay their farmers, which allow them to dump cheap produce on world markets, depriving African farmers of their livelihoods.
  • They must make a firm commitment to allow poor countries to decide their own trade policies, instead of forcing them to open up their markets or privatise basic services before they are ready.

Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy Jo Leadbeater said: “Now is not the time for a transatlantic tit-for-tat over farm subsidies. G8 leaders must use Gleneagles to set out a bold agenda in the run up to the all-important meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong in December. With so many of the key players in world trade around the table in Gleneagles, it would be unforgivable if they didn’t make concrete progress towards trade justice here.”

Debt

  • G8 leaders must fully affirm last month’s agreement by their finance ministers to cancel 100 per cent of the debts of some poor countries, and they should expand the list of countries that qualify. Desperately poor countries with huge debts such as Sri Lanka and Kenya should also be included.

Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy Jo Leadbeater said: “There will be no victory against poverty while debt continues to cripple the efforts of poor countries to tackle poverty. Poor countries need 100 per cent cancellation of their debts so the money can be spent on saving lives.”

Contact Information

For more information and interviews contact: Helen Palmer, Oxfam’s Global Media Officer at Gleneagles on 44 (0)7876 476403