GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO HOLD HIGH-LEVEL TALKS ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT, 27-28 JUNE
Next week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting on follow-up to the historic development summit that took place in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002, is expected to add momentum to international action on aid, trade and debt relief.
The 27-28 June High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development offers an opportunity for governments to consolidate or add to the development package that is being assembled internationally in support of the Millennium Development Goals. It takes place as the General Assembly proceeds with negotiation of the outcome document for the 2005 World Summit in September, and in the immediate run-up to the Group of 8 (G-8) meeting, where development finances head the agenda.
The event will bring together ministers of finance, foreign affairs and development cooperation, as well as leaders of the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) -- the same combination that brokered a partnership against poverty in Monterrey in 2002.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will deliver an opening statement at 10 am, 27 June, in the General Assembly Hall. Discussion at the two-day meeting will be guided by the six-part Monterrey agenda: aid, trade, debt, private investment, systemic issues, and resource mobilization within the developing nations.
In a report presented to the General Assembly (A/59/822), the UN Secretary-General calls for completion of the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations and fulfilment of its development promise, with an “end-game document” reached at the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2005. He advises elimination of export and trade-distorting domestic subsidies in agriculture, a reduction in tariff peaks and market entry barriers placed on developing country products and liberalization of temporary cross-border labour and the supply of services.
The Secretary-General has urged all developed countries to establish fixed timetables for reaching the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) devoted to development assistance by 2015 at the latest, with an intermediate target of roughly doubling aid to 0.5 per cent of the GNI of the developed countries in 2009.
Currently only Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden meet or exceed the 0.7 per cent target, but the European Union has agreed a collective target of 0.56 by 2010, with the 15 pre-enlargement Member States setting 2015 as a target for reaching 0.7 per cent. Those countries that joined the EU after 2002 have agreed to strive to achieve a ratio of 0.17 per cent of their GNI by 2010 and 0.33 per cent by 2015. While US development aid has increased substantially since the 2002 Monterrey conference, it still lags far behind the 0.7 per cent target that was adopted at that conference, and no timetable for further increases has been set.
The possibility of establishing an International Finance Facility (IFF) to use future aid allocations as security to leverage immediate investment in development was initially proposed by the United Kingdom in 2003. The Secretary-General is calling on the international community to launch it in 2005. A pilot IFF is being created whose resources will be used for immunization.
Debt Difficulties Not Yet Over
At a meeting of the G-8 finance ministers in early June, a compromise proposal for debt reduction was agreed for approval by heads of State and government at the G-8 Summit in July and by the shareholders of the lending institutions in September. Donors agreed to provide additional development resources to provide full debt relief for eligible Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) on outstanding obligations to the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank, among others, on a performance-based allocation system. A total of $40 billion in HIPC debt for 18 countries would be written off if the proposal is approved by the governing boards of the lending institutions.
But for many other heavily indebted low-income and middle-income countries, debt sustainability will require significantly more debt reduction than has yet been proposed.
Reporters who wish to attend the General Assembly meeting and who do not have UN press credentials should fax a letter of assignment to 1 212 963-4642, and follow up with a call to the UN Media Accreditation Unit at 1 212 963-7164.
For more information or a copy of the report, contact the Development Section of the UN Department of Public Information, Tim Wall, tel.: 1 212 963-5851, e-mail: email@example.com; or Mabel Brodrick-Okereke, tel.: 1 212 963-3771, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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