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The G8 summit
The Conservative Opposition support the British Government’s agenda in this area, which clearly benefits from cross Party support, and takes forward initiatives started by the last Conservative administration. We commend the Prime Minister’s aspirations for the Summit to make a real difference to the lives of millions in Africa who face an appalling future of poverty, starvation and disease unless radical solutions are found.
The Conservative Party want to see the leaders of the G8 and other nations make a co-ordinated effort to achieve real progress in this important area. Once we see the shape of the package that is agreed at Gleneagles, we will judge it against a number of criteria:-
Although these matters will be decided at EU and WTO level, the trade measures to help the developing world are very much on the political agenda at the G8. An effective way of helping African countries to develop is to free up markets for their trade. Protection for developed countries at the expense of the developing world is both immoral and hypocritical. For every pound that rich countries give to poor countries in aid, those poor countries lose two pounds through protectionist trade barriers. We are deeply dismayed that over the last 4 years 20 billion pounds has been spent by the EU subsidising EU so that they can undercut competitors in African markets. This is a waste of European taxpayer’s money and a cause of African impoverishment.
The EU should allow poor countries tariff free access to our markets, benefiting both British consumers and poorer producers.
We believe in fairer and freer trade because it creates wealth and spreads prosperity. South Korea and Taiwan – and more recently India and China – have shown how participation in the world economy makes poor countries richer and relieves poverty. The UK makes the case for freer trade – and we should practice at home what we preach abroad by opening our markets.
Aid must be used to encourage the pre-requisites of poverty reduction: good government; sound economic policies; property rights and the rule of law.
We support extra resources for the fight against poverty. The extra money has the potential to save millions of lives. It is most important to ensure that aid is spent transparently – that hard working taxpayers can see their support spent entirely on what was intended and not siphoned off into the Swiss Bank accounts by corrupt politicians. Aid must be governed by the “good governance” criteria.
3. DEBT RELIEF
On 11 June 2023 the G8 Finance Ministers agreed a deal which will cancel 40 billion dollars (22 billion pounds) of debt owed by 18 of the world’s poorest countries. Under the agreement the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Fund will immediately write off 100% of the money owed to them by 18 countries. It will save those countries of 1.5 billion dollars a year in debt payment.
A further 9 other countries should benefit from 100% debt relief within 18 months. After that 11 more countries could be eligible to join if they met targets for good governance and tackling corruption. The total package – which must be approved by the lending institutions – could be worth 55 billion dollars.
The G8 countries will compensate the multi-lateral institutions for the lost repayments. Britain will contribute approximately 530 million pounds over the next 10 years.
We welcome this deal but we must make certain that the money freed up in this way is spent on fighting disease and educating children. The battle in Africa against the pandemic of HIV/AIDS is of critical importance. We must put in place robust measures to ensure that the money released by debt cancellation is used to fight poverty.
In my personal opinion the Conservative Party must be a party committed to helping the poorest in the world and tackling the scourges of disease, ignorance and neglect. This can be done through fairer trade, better and more accountable aid and effective debt relief.
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