G8 Leaders Reach Agreement on Increased Aid to Africa at Close of Summit
Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations on Friday at the close of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, agreed to an immediate doubling of aid to Africa to $50 billion annually in order to fight poverty and disease on the continent, BBC News reports. In the final communique, which is expected to be released on Friday, G8 leaders agreed to the aid target as well as proposals on international trade, universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment and debt cancellation for the world's poorest countries, according to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "It isn't all everyone wanted, but it is progress," Blair said, adding, "All of this does not change the world tomorrow. It is a beginning, not an end" (BBC News, 7/8). Although Blair also has advocated that all G8 countries increase foreign aid commitments to 0.7% of their gross national incomes by 2015, that target is expected to be excluded from the communique (AP/CNN.com, 7/8). Although President Bush announced last week that he will seek to double U.S. aid to Africa from the $4.3 billion committed in 2004 to $8.6 billion by 2010, he opposed the 0.7% GNI target. According to anti-poverty advocates, Bush's goal of $8.6 billion by 2010 falls about $6 billion short of what is needed from the United States to meet Blair's proposal to increase aid to $50 billion by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/7).
Debt Relief, Treatment Access
The final agreement also will officially endorse a debt relief plan proposed last month by G8 finance ministers (Swanson, Edinburgh Evening News, 7/8). The plan will cancel at least $40 billion in debt owed by the world's 18 poorest nations. Under the agreement, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia will receive immediate forgiveness for the debt they owe to the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The deal will save the 18 countries about $1.5 billion annually, which they could use toward health care, education and poverty alleviation programs, according to U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/13). The communique also includes an agreement on providing universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, according to Blair (BBC News, 7/8). G8 finance ministers last month agreed to increase efforts to provide universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, as well as encourage research into vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/7). However, it is unclear if G8 leaders reached an agreement on international trade issues, according to the Evening News. Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa have called for tariffs, subsidies and other trade barriers to be eliminated in an effort to reduce poverty in developing countries. In addition, Bush has said he would like to eradicate farm subsidies by 2010. Any action on opening world markets to developing countries probably will not occur until World Trade Organization talks resume in December, according to the Evening News (Edinburgh Evening News, 7/8).