Fifty-Ninth General Assembly
106th & 107th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TWO-DAY HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE TO ASSESS PROGRESS
IMPLEMENTING 2002 MONTERREY AGREEMENT ON DEVELOPMENT FINANCE
In Opening Address, Secretary-General Says World Community
On Threshold of Breakthrough in Pursuit of Development, Human Dignity
As the General Assembly met to assess progress in implementing a landmark agreement reached at a 2002 development summit in Monterrey, Mexico, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said many years of hard work had brought the international community to the threshold of a breakthrough in its pursuit of development and human dignity.
The Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development offered an opportunity for governments to consolidate or add to the development package that is being assembled internationally in support of the Millennium Development Goals -- the set of development targets endorsed by world leaders at the 2000 Millennium Summit. 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 two-day Dialogue brings 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 the World Trade Organization (WTO) -- the same combination that brokered a partnership against poverty in Monterrey in 2002.
Not long ago, stated the Secretary-General, many had feared that development in the world’s poorest countries could become a lost cause, with some stating that extreme poverty was a sad but inescapable aspect of the human condition. That view was now seen as intellectually indefensible and morally untenable, and it was widely recognized that poverty must and could be defeated. Many developing countries had succeeded in lifting millions of people out of impoverishment and despair, and the international community had banded together in a sustained, unprecedented effort.
He said the decision taken this month by the finance ministers of the G-8 to write off debt was encouraging. For too long, some of the world’s poorest countries had faced an unpalatable choice between serving their peoples and servicing their debt. It was also an enormous boost to know that the European Union had agreed to a clear timetable for reaching the 0.7 per cent target for official development assistance (ODA) by 2015, which would help to finally overcome resource shortfalls that had kept so many millions of people mired in squalor.
Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) said the 2002 Monterrey Conference reflected the growing awareness of the international community of the complex issues of development and the lack of financial resources in developing countries. The process begun in Monterrey was geared towards exploring the interdependent factors that affected States’ ability to manage and obtain the financial resources they needed for development. The Millennium Goals were crucially linked with the Monterrey process, given the part to be played by financing for development, so people could emerge from conditions of poverty.
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Jamaica’s Minister of State, Delano Franklyn, said the international community was far short of mobilizing the level of resources required to finance the level of development envisaged in the development-oriented summits and conferences, including the Millennium Summit. An unprecedented, multidimensional coherent thrust would be needed from the September Summit to generate the level and quality of resources in the time frame, even to meet the Millennium Goals.
The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, said that, at present rates of progress, several Millennium Goals would be reached far too late. Primary education for all would not be achieved until 2130 -- 115 years too late; poverty would not be halved until 2150, and avoidable infant diseases would not end until 2165. Those who died today, were ill today, did not go to school today and were poor today could not wait that long. To help, the international community must provide more and better aid, debt relief and trade.
Motee Ramdass, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Protection of Mauritius, highlighted the fact that international trade as an engine for development could only deliver if existing disparities were duly taken into account and specific concerns were adequately addressed. From the perspective of a small island developing State, the only credible development option lay in outward, export-led strategies. Participation in international trade, therefore, was an inevitable option, but it could not compete on equal terms with the naturally endowed and more technologically advanced. The only option, therefore, was to provide such countries with favourable market access conditions and allow them to maintain a certain level of export competitiveness.
Francisco Thompson-Flores, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that trade was not the answer to all the world’s problems and trade liberalization on its own was not enough to meet all the challenges faced by societies. But trade’s importance as a driver of growth was clear, and a successful conclusion of the Doha development round could make an enormous contribution to global efforts for poverty alleviation and development.
That was why he supported the challenge the Secretary-General had placed before world leaders for September -- to commit to complete the Doha round no later than 2006 and to ensure that the development promise of the round was fully realized. A successful conclusion of the Doha negotiations would generate great trade opportunities. “It is a once in a generation opportunity”, he said. Failure would be a setback for global economic management and contrary to the interests of the entire world community.
Noting that new sources of financing were needed to fund long-term strategies driving sustainable development, Thierry Breton, France’s Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, said that France, Brazil, Chile and Germany were calling for the rapid implementation of a pilot “solidarity levy based on airline tickets”. Subject to the sovereignty of participating countries, the levy funds could be earmarked to finance the most urgent human development programmes, such as vaccination campaigns and the pooled purchase of HIV/AIDS treatments.
Statements were also made today by the President of the Economic and Social Council, as well as high-level officials from Mexico, Denmark, Sweden, Gabon, Ireland, Germany, Botswana, Norway, Indonesia, Tunisia, United States, Antigua and Barbuda, Viet Nam, Egypt, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Malaysia, Eritrea, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Gambia, Ecuador, Bahamas, Mozambique, Haiti, Benin, Japan, India, Finland, Namibia, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, Lithuania and Australia.
In addition, the representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (on behalf of the United Nations Development Group) made statements.
The High-level Dialogue will continue at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 28 June, with a plenary meeting and six round tables.
The General Assembly met this morning to begin its High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development. The overall focus of the Dialogue will be on the status of worldwide efforts to implement the Monterrey Consensus and the way forward. The two-day meeting will be built around a series of formal and informal meetings and six interactive round-table discussions on issues that include international trade as an engine for development, and mobilizing domestic financial resources for development.
The Monterrey Consensus is the landmark agreement adopted by world leaders in Mexico at the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development. It calls for the resources to meet the Millennium Development Goals and the conditions that will enable freer trade, more foreign investment, debt relief and efficient government. The Millennium Goals, endorsed by heads of State at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, are a set of qualified targets ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by 2015.
To guide their discussions, participants have before them the report of the Secretary-General entitled, “The Monterrey Consensus: status of implementation and tasks ahead” (document A/59/822). The report notes the primary responsibility for mobilizing domestic resources lies with developing countries. In that regard, it proposes that countries with extreme poverty adopt and begin to implement, no later than 2006, a national development strategy bold enough to meet the Millennium Goals by 2015.
The report also states that a higher proportion of foreign direct investment (FDI) should be directed to low-income countries and FDI’s positive contribution to their development should be ensured. Among the actions proposed are to bolster the development impact of FDI through policies that identify strategic areas for foreign investment and stimulate linkages between foreign affiliates and developing country firms; introduce mechanisms to better manage and mitigate investment risk; and implement stronger regional cooperation to enhance regional financial stability.
Recognizing the links between trade, development and finance, the report states that a more open, equitable, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system is critical to exploiting the potential of trade to act as a source of financing for development. In that connection, the report proposes implementing the Secretary-General’s request to complete the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations in a way that fulfils its development promise no later than 2006. It also proposes agreement on an “end-game document” at the sixth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in December 2005 to ensure that negotiations can be completed in 2006.
In addition, it is important to introduce meaningful rules for special and differential treatment; provide immediate duty-free and quota-free access for all exports from the least developed countries; and provide special support to commodity-dependent countries to diversify their exports.
Official development assistance (ODA), states the report, is increasing in nominal terms, but more needs to be done to increase assistance to ensure the financing required to attain the Millennium Goals. Action could include establishing fixed timetables for developed countries to achieve the 0.7 per cent target by 2015 at the latest, with an intermediate target of roughly doubling aid to 0.5 per cent for 2009, and direct more aid to the least developed countries; ensuring that ODA provides real increases in financial resources to support the Millennium Goals reflected in the budgets of recipient countries; and launching an International Finance Facility (IFF) in 2005.
Despite the success of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, notes the report, many low- and middle-income countries still face unsustainable debt burdens. The report proposes strengthening developing countries’ debt management capacity and continuing to pursue agreement and implementation of a debt workout mechanism aimed at efficient and equitable burden-sharing.
As an appropriate international environment is essential to developing countries’ efforts to implement reforms to mobilize domestic resources, the report proposes creating the political will to enhance developing countries’ sense of responsibility and domestic ownership of their own development by providing them with a more equitable voice and participation in the institutions that take the decisions that affect their development prospects.
Among other proposals presented in the report is to establish an executive committee in the Economic and Social Council to facilitate cooperation with multilateral institutions dealing with trade and finance.
Also before the meeting is the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the role of the private sector and entrepreneurship in financing for development (document A/59/800), which outlines ways to create a healthy business environment that can help boost socio-economic growth in poor countries. The report covers a range of issues dealing with strengthening the role of the private sector and entrepreneurship in financing for development and examines the key requirements for improving the overall business environment in developing countries. It focuses on six main criteria in that regard: appropriate and enforceable regulations; labour and related standards; access to finance; infrastructure; accurate timely information, and macroeconomic stability.
The report also highlights measures that can create healthy firms and strengthen entrepreneurship in local economies, particularly creating conditions that promote skills training and learning. It stresses that entrepreneurship is responsible for much of the competition and innovation in the business world and is also held as central to nations trying to attain competitiveness in international markets. "Innovation" in the financing for development arena is defined in a broad sense, and includes the introduction of new goods and services, the development of new marketing strategies, the opening up of new markets and the creation of new industries in a given sector. Entrepreneurs are generally divided into "necessity entrepreneurs", who try to start up a business because they have no jobs, and "opportunity entrepreneurs", who fulfil traditional entrepreneurship roles.
As for pursuing opportunities for entrepreneurship in developing and least developed countries, the report suggests the strengthening of global public-private partnerships, boosting private sector networks, linking smaller business to help facilitate the transfer of technology and information, and targeting the poorest consumers, who are generally eager to purchase quality goods and services, in new and innovative ways.
General Assembly President JEAN PING (Gabon) said that the Assembly had gathered for the second High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development to discuss the progress made in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and to consider future action. Today’s dialogue was particularly significant because it would allow for passing one more milestone in the road towards the September high-level meeting. He recalled the special process that had led the international community to today’s event. The Monterrey conference in March 2002 reflected the growing awareness of the international community of the complex issues of development and the lack of financial resources in developing countries. The process begun in Monterrey was geared towards exploring the interdependent factors that affected States’ ability to manage and obtain the financial resources they needed for development.
The first stage of that process, he said, had been an in-depth study to identify the factors crucial for financing for development. Eight factors were identified which reflected the major chapters in the Monterrey Consensus, including the mobilization of national resources, trade and debt. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) were invited to join the United Nations in a dynamic partnership, so that together they could find ways to mobilize resources to advance national development. The General Assembly had recognized that States had an individual and shared responsibility for development. The Millennium Development Goals, adopted in 2000, were crucially linked with the Monterrey process, given the part to be played by financing for development, so people could emerge from conditions of poverty.
He said that with a view to the upcoming September meeting, which would assess implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, many projects had been implemented in recent months, such as the recent decision by Group of 8 ministers to cancel 100 per cent of the debt of some developing countries. It was essential to ensure that the monetary system was more consistent and cohesive to enable developing countries to reform and to mobilize national resources. On the eve of the WTO conference, a general agreement must be worked on to establish a multilateral trade system that was more open and equitable. He reiterated the appeal of heads of State at Monterrey calling for an international follow-up conference to report on the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. Arrangements for such a conference must be decided on in 2005 at the latest.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that many years of hard work had brought the international community to the threshold of a breakthrough in its pursuit of development and human dignity. Not long ago, many had feared that development in the world’s poorest countries could become a lost cause, with some stating that extreme poverty was a sad but inescapable aspect of the human condition. That view was now seen as intellectually indefensible and morally untenable, and it was widely recognized that poverty must and could be defeated. Many developing countries had succeeded in lifting millions of people out of impoverishment and despair, and the international community had banded together in a sustained, unprecedented effort. United Nations conferences and summits had mapped out a vision and the Millennium Goals had become a rallying point of unparalleled scope -- globally accepted benchmarks by which policies should be fashioned and progress judged. The Monterrey Consensus had brought rich and poor countries together in partnership, and the Millennium Project had provided a plan of action.
He said the decision taken this month by the finance ministers of the Group of 8 to write off debt was encouraging. For too long, some of the world’s poorest countries had faced an unpalatable choice between serving their peoples and servicing their debt. It was also an enormous boost to know that the European Union had agreed to a clear timetable for reaching the 0.7 per cent target for ODA by 2015, which would help to finally overcome resource shortfalls that had kept so many millions of people mired in squalor.
Such steps must be accompanied by similarly dramatic action on unfinished parts of the agenda, with rich and poor alike doing their part, he said. Developing countries had pledged to uphold the rule of law, fight corruption, build up their institutions, invest in human capital, mobilize domestic resources and open up to business. Developed countries had pledged to launch an international finance facility, double aid to Africa, reduce the damaging effects of volatile private capital flow, and increase the voice and participation of developing countries in global economic decision-making. Developed countries must also take the lead in creating a development-friendly trading system. If developing countries could compete on fair terms, without having to contend with unfair subsidies and unduly high tariffs, they would reap dividends far beyond what aid and other measures could generate.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council, recalled that at Monterrey, the world’s leaders agreed to address the challenges faced in generating the required financing for development. Unfortunately, like other such global agreements, Monterrey also suffered from serious implementation deficit. The Consensus assigned the Council important responsibilities for follow-up on the implementation of commitments. The Council was to promote greater coherence, coordination and cooperation between the United Nations and the other international financial and trade institutions in the implementation of the agreed development goals. The Council’s special high-level meeting was designed to perform that function.
The Economic and Social Council’s April meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions focused on three sub-themes: policies and strategies; trade, investment and private flows; and ODA, innovative sources of financing and debt. It was recognized that a nationally formulated and owned development strategy, adequate policy space, greater overall coherence and coordination, employment creation, and greater support for private sector-led growth were critical elements in attaining the agreed development goals. Good governance, particularly enhancing transparency and combating corruption, was recognized as central to the effective implementation of national strategies. At the international level, the need to strengthen the voice and participation of developing countries in international financial institutions was viewed as an important factor for good global governance.
The Council discussion, he said, generally supported recent initiatives on innovative sources of financing. Those sources should be additional to the existing ODA commitments and targets. On the implementation of innovative financing, there was a general preference for an incremental approach. The discussions noted the urgency of solving the huge burdens of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, consideration of the situation of debt-distressed non-HIPC low-income countries, and the need for a comprehensive framework for solving debt problems of middle-income countries. Views on defining debt, however, remained divergent.
DELANO FRANKLYN (Jamaica), on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the international community was far short of mobilizing the level of resources required to finance the level of development envisaged in the development-oriented summits and conferences, including the Millennium Summit. An unprecedented, multidimensional coherent thrust would be needed from the September Summit to generate the level and quality of resources in the time frame, even to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The development challenge as addressed in Monterrey was comprehensive, including -- but extending well beyond -- the achievement of the Millennium Goals. As the deficit had been in all six areas identified in the Monterrey Consensus, urgent action was needed in each area.
Regarding the mobilizing of domestic financial resources for development, he proposed that emphasis be given to providing developing countries with the required policy space to innovate, depending on national circumstances. He suggested also that the international community devise strategies to reverse and eliminate the net negative flow of resources from developing countries and that coordinated effort be directed to enhancing the capacity of the local business sector to better compete globally. Regarding trade, he noted that no progress had been made on the substantive issues of interest to developing countries in the Doha Work Programme. At the Group’s June Summit, leaders had stressed also the need for the WTO to become a rules-based trading system that gave priority to the development dimension and that an integrated international approach be adopted to enhance the contribution of commodities to development.
Concerning financial and technical cooperation for development, he noted that the Monterrey Consensus had urged developed countries to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to ODA to all developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent to the least developed countries. The declining trend in ODA had been halted and ODA from developed countries had increased from a record low of 0.21 per cent of GNP in 2005 to 0.25 per cent in 2003 and 2004. An increase of 0.04 per cent in ODA after the second year could hardly be defined as substantial. There was an increasing recognition of the need to address the resources issue. The European Union, for example, had recently agreed to timetables for all its older members to reach the target by 2015 with an intermediate target for 2010. The Group welcomed such initiatives.
Concerning external debt, he said while there had been several initiatives to address the debt issue they had been partial and accompanied by conditions which reduced access and their effectiveness. The Group’s summit had called for a comprehensive approach to include, among other things, cancellation of all debt of the least developed countries. Regarding systemic issues, he noted that despite urgent recognition and increasing meetings involving the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the systems remained incoherent. The Group had called for greater coordination among international institutions dealing with development, finance, monetary and trade issues to promote coherence in policies, with a view to making them more development-oriented. It had also called for action to deal with global systemic imbalances in such areas as trade and finance and reform of the global financial architecture.
LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ BAUTISTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, emphasized the importance of linking the Millennium Development Goals with development financing mechanisms that had emerged from the Monterrey Conference, which would enhance coherence between national development strategies and global economic processes. Such a link was indispensable, considering that trade and financial liberalization, as well as adjustments to developing economies, had not brought the Goals within reach. The second High-level Dialogue provided an opportunity to carefully review compliance with the Goals, and identify areas the international community needed to focus on to achieve targets set for 2015.
He called attention to progress made by developed nations in committing 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to ODA, or adopting timetables to do so. Welcoming agreements to relieve the multilateral debt of heavily indebted poor countries, he said those agreements must be accompanied by measures to ensure the integrity of the international financial system. Over the next few months, the international community should hear important announcements on ODA, debt relief, and trade, as well as plans to alleviate poverty, strengthen democracy, and enhance human rights.
The world needed a strong United Nations to advance towards the Millennium Goals, he continued. It could not throw away an historic opportunity to strengthen and reinvigorate the Organization, which would not only be irresponsible, but dangerous. Stressing that the current year was vital for the Organization’s future, he said Member States must adopt a new international architecture capable of responding to peoples’ demands for development and security through dialogue and building consensus.
ULLA TØRNÆS, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, said that, in Monterrey a compact was forged between rich and poor countries. Many countries had announced increased contributions for financing development. Highlighting the situation of the world today, she noted that four out of 10 Africans did not have enough to eat, and 28 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were infected with HIV/AIDS. It was a disgrace that the international community continued to allow such human suffering. She was proud to represent one of only five countries that had honoured its ODA commitment of 0.7 per cent. She hoped all rich countries would do the same. She was also proud to be part of the European Union, which, at its recent summit, agreed on new and ambitious development assistance targets.
The commitments made in Monterrey, she said, were closely linked to the Millennium Goals, which represented the most ambitious development agenda ever established. A key achievement in Monterrey was the establishment of partnerships based on mutual commitments. To fully utilize the transferred resources, recipient countries should, among other things, improve governance. No matter how much aid was put on the table, kick-starting development in poor countries required pro-poor development policies which involved the private sector. Economic growth rates of at least 7 per cent would be necessary to halve the number of those living in poverty.
Two of her priorities were to create a conducive environment for private sector investment in Denmark’s partner countries, and to help poor countries better integrate into the world economy. There was no doubt that an open and fair trade regime was required for development. She emphasized three elements that were crucial for a successful Doha round: duty-free and quota-free access for exports from poor countries; to stop insisting on reciprocity and to ensure adequate attention to trade; and integrating trade in the national poverty reduction strategies of developing countries. It was important to agree that innovative sources of development financing must be additional, and not a guise to mask the lack of political will to provide the agreed levels of ODA.
HILARY BENN, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, said that, at present rates of progress, several Millennium Goals would be reached far too late. Primary education for all would not be achieved until 2130 -– 115 years too late; poverty would not be halved until 2150; and avoidable infant diseases would not end until 2165. Those who died today, were ill today, didn’t go to school today, and were poor today could not wait that long. To help, the international community must provide more and better aid, debt relief and trade.
He noted that five countries had already achieved the ODA target of 0.7 per cent and others were signing up. The European Union had agreed to reach 0.56 per cent by 2010 and 0.7 per cent by 2015, which would double the Union’s aid from $40 billion to $80 billion in 2010, half of which would go to Africa. All countries should increase their aid, making it long term and predictable, and ensure that it was used for priorities set by developing countries themselves.
Turning to debt relief, he said the Group of 8 finance ministers had already agreed that heavily indebted poor countries would receive 100 per cent cancellation on debts to the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank. If agreed by other donors and the Boards of the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank in September, the deal could be worth up to $55 billion to 38 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the end, however, the future of developing countries would rest in their own hands, as delivered good governance, created strong institutions and raised their own finance.
CARIN JÄMTIN, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden, said Member States should challenge themselves to be as concrete as possible and to set clear timetables and deadlines. In the development arena, today’s meeting was among the most important. In September, governments should commit to fully implementing the Paris Declaration by 2010. Sweden would try to do so before then. She welcomed the recent proposal of the Group of 8 to cancel the debt of a number of poor, debt-distressed countries. Trade might be the most important engine for growth in developing countries, she noted. World leaders should seek to complete the Doha trade round no later than 2006. Failure to do so would be a serious setback to development efforts. It was necessary to provide duty-free and quota-free access to the world market for the exports of poor countries and to remove trade-distorting subsidies, such as agriculture subsidies.
The Monterrey Consensus was based on the principle of shared responsibility, she stated. In order to reach the Millennium Development Goals, it was necessary to incorporate them into national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). Also, a good political and economic environment was key for achieving development. Good governance was also the foundation for the effective use of domestic and external resources. Ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources and ensuring employment were essential in that regard. She expected the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO, the United Nations and MemberStates to increase their efforts to develop a coherent system of development assistance.
PAUL TOUNGUI, Minister of Economy, Finance, Budget and Privatization of Gabon, noted that actions taken by developing countries to shore up their economies had, unfortunately, not achieved the expected results. In addition, direct foreign investment was focused on a small number of countries, which had slowed down economic development. Hopefully, the WTO failure to reach agreement at Cancun, Mexico, would be rectified at its upcoming meeting, and trade would improve between developed and developing countries. As for ODA, it was clear that commitments made in Monterrey to double development assistance had not been honoured, resulting in financing deficits in many nations. He welcomed initiatives to find novel forms of financing, including international taxation and debt relief. It was also important that developing country views be considered in developing and implementing decisions taken by international financial institutions.
For its part, Gabon had consolidated its financial base, reinforced transparency in public resource management and governance, promoted microfinance, improved business competitiveness, and made the economy more attractive to investment. Welcoming the Group of 8’s decision to relieve debt in highly indebted poor countries, he said his country had devoted important resources to debt, which could have been used to increase investments in infrastructure and reduce poverty.
CONOR LENIHAN, Minister for Development Cooperation of Ireland, said that, as the world’s leading aid donor, the European Union was playing its part in taking forward the Monterrey Consensus. He was proud that the Union would double its ODA between 2004 and 2010. It would reach the target of 0.7 by 2015. He noted that 2005 was a critical year for the poorest people on the planet. It was critical because world leaders would account for what they had done over the last five years to meet their commitments around eradicating hunger and poverty. It was also a critical opportunity for developing countries to show that, with the support of their development partners, they were strengthening governance at the country level. Better governance, bringing increased transparency and accountability to local and national levels of government, must be seen, not primarily as a quid pro quo for increased aid, but as an essential factor in itself in reducing poverty.
The recent Group of 8 announcement to cancel the debt owed by certain countries was significant progress towards solving the problem of third world debt, he said. Ireland had called for 100 per cent debt cancellation for all heavily indebted poor countries since 2002. The success of debt-relief or debt-cancellation efforts was principally measured by how much it increased the money available to the beneficiary government for spending on poverty eradication. The quality and effectiveness of aid was another critical issue for development. Only if development was owned, driven and managed by the governments, civil society and citizens of developing countries could outside assistance be effective. The structure of aid was also critical to its effectiveness. The High-level Dialogue was an extremely important element in the lead-up to September, an occasion to reconfirm commitment to the Monterrey Consensus, to review the progress to date in its implementation and to ensure the widest possible commitment to taking the process forward in the future.
HEIDEMARIE WIECZOREK-ZEUL, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, described poverty as a dangerous weapon of mass destruction, which all nations must fight. It was obscene that global spending on armaments had reached a far larger sum than total investments in development assistance. Countries must shift their priorities towards development and poverty reduction, which would go a long way towards reducing violence and establishing peace as the law of human life.
Germany had adopted the development assistance timetable of the European Union, which would increase ODA to 0.7 of GDP by 2015, she said. Her country also supported multilateral debt relief for highly indebted poor countries agreed to by the Group of 8. The international community should also to seek innovative financing instruments, such as international taxes or charges on aviation fuel. Adding that global public goods were being exploited, with some countries taking no responsibility for their use, she said all must shoulder their shared responsibilities.
In addition, she stressed the need to eliminate unjust cotton subsidies, which would allow 12 million people in West Africa to provide their own incomes. The international community must also put an end to other unfair agricultural subsidies, so that developing countries could expand their home markets.
BALEDZI GAOLATHE (Botswana) said today’s meeting took place against the background of little progress in terms of the Millennium Declaration’s implementation. Challenges identified five years ago persisted. HIV/AIDS continued to be a major challenge, and the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa alone remained above 45 per cent. The region was also afflicted by continuing food insecurity, high maternal mortality and a large proportion of people living in slum areas. The grim situation was a challenge to the High-level Dialogue, calling for urgent measures to accelerate implementation of the Monterey Consensus. The 0.7 per cent target should be an indispensable source of development finance and should be fulfilled. Developing countries also had a role to play, however, in mobilizing their own resources and implementing investor-friendly policies and promoting good governance.
He supported recent efforts to release resources for development in the developing countries, such as debt relief. He appreciated, in particular, the European Union’s efforts to meet the 0.7 per cent target and those who had set timetables to that end. He also supported other innovative financing ideas for frontloading ODA, in particular, the International Financing Facility proposed by the United Kingdom. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals would remain a collaborative effort between developed and developing countries. To that end, Botswana had implemented measures to ensure necessary internal conditions for mobilizing resources, sustaining adequate levels of productive investment and increasing human capacity. It had, for example, reformed its tax system in 2002, introducing a value added tax. On institutional reforms, an autonomous revenue service had been established and a unit established within the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to give undivided attention to cost recovery and cost savings in the public sector. As a result, Botswana was funding over 90 per cent of its budget from domestic resources.
It was vital that real progress be made on the Doha Development Round, he said. More than anything else, developing countries needed market access for their products. Unless industrialized countries took the bold political steps of abolishing trade subsidies, especially in agricultural products, and removing protectionism, declarations about fighting poverty would remain largely a dream. The Dialogue should come up with special recommendations on how to assist the middle income countries, such as Botswana, to consolidate their economic gains. Ignoring that category before their economies were firmly rooted could reverse some or all of the developmental gains achieved to date.
HILDE F. JOHNSON, Minister of International Development of Norway, said that five years ago, the world community made a promise to the world’s poor. Ten years from now, “they will hold us to our word”. The clock was running. A third of the time had gone, but the world was not a third of the way there. The Millennium Development Goals could and must be met, but they would not be unless all donors and developing countries alike improved on past performance. More needed to be done, and faster. What was needed was following the Monterrey road map. The Monterrey Consensus was not an optional “to do” list. Everyone needed to deliver, in all areas of the agreement, and now, because the actions had not yet matched the words.
She stressed that reform was needed in four key areas: reform of international framework conditions; donor reform; governance reform; and mobilization of the private sector and civil society. In the first, trade and market access, investment and debt must be addressed in order to level the playing field. In terms of donor reform, more and better aid was needed. The Paris Declaration on aid was now the benchmark instrument in shifting from the donor circus to country-owned, country-led development. Governance reform required that development start from the inside, with countries responsible for transparent governance, including a strong and persistent focus on anti-corruption efforts. To mobilize the private sector and civil society, creating jobs and economic growth were key to fighting poverty.
Everyone knew what was needed, “yet we are dragging our feet”, she said. Without the will to reform, the Millennium Development Goals would become little more than wishful thinking. They would join the other well intended initiatives in the “graveyard of broken promises” to the poor, and the present generation would have failed its most important test. That must not be allowed to happen. More aid was needed, as well as more debt relief. So was fresh money. Recycling was a good thing, but not when it came to ODA. It also must be ensured that development lasted -- that developing countries took responsibility for their own development, and that they had the domestic capacity needed to translate temporary assistance into permanent progress. Capacity remained a major obstacle, but that must be addressed in tandem with efforts to increase ODA flows and deliver on market access. “We have the road map and the resources”, she concluded.
SRI MULYANI INDRAWATI, Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, said that the Monterrey Consensus was a unique international agreement that served as a turning point to reverse the downward trend of ODA. It also promoted international cooperation and partnership to mobilize resources, both domestic and international, through international trade, foreign direct investment and mobilization of innovative financing. To realize the Consensus, much more needed to be done. Developing countries had been struggling to build strong institutions and human capital. Developing an integrated national strategy to reduce poverty was critical, but not sufficient in itself, unless strengthened by international support.
Indonesia, she said, was one of the developing countries that had adopted such efforts. It had experienced major challenges, including the economic crisis of 1997/1998, a political transformation and the recent tsunami. Despite that, the first successful direct election in history was held and had laid a solid foundation for addressing the challenges faced. Several important good policies had been established. The country’s stable macroeconomic conditions, with a modest inflation rate and a flexible exchange rate to sustain its competitiveness, had become an important anchor for the upward trend of its economic growth. Indonesia was also developing a more open regulatory framework and was promoting a policy of good governance.
The target in the next five years was to reduce the poverty rate to 8.2 per cent from 16.6 per cent in 2004 and cut unemployment, she continued. While the main responsibility to mobilize adequate resources for development lay with respective countries, for many developing countries, the role of external financing was indispensable. She supported the international call for increased ODA, deeper debt forgiveness and the elimination of systemic inequities, but also supported developing a reliable international system to help those developing countries that display strong momentum and ownership of the reform process to eradicate poverty and to sustain development.
MOTEE RAMDASS, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Protection of Mauritius, said his continent lagged behind in all areas of development. Africa was at the epicentre of the crisis and continued to be entangled in the vicious circle of the poverty trap, with a rise in extreme poverty, high child and maternal mortality rates, and poor access to safe drinking water. The incidence of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases was destroying lives and livelihoods and taking a huge toll on Africa’s citizens. The current state of affairs was depriving the continent of the much needed human capital for sustained growth. The thousands of deaths that were occurring daily in Africa could be easily avoided if only the international community would honour its commitments. Without sustained support, there was little hope that Africa would be able to break out of the poverty trap.
He said that the importance of the relationship between development, trade and integration of developing countries into the global economy had been recognized at major international conferences. There could be no system of rules that applied equally to unequal partners, that failed to take into account the disparity in the levels of development or the unequal factor endowments, or comparative and competitive inequalities. International trade as an engine for development could only deliver if existing disparities were duly taken into account and specific concerns were adequately addressed. From the perspective of a small island developing country like Mauritius, the only credible development option lay in outward export-led strategies. Participation in international trade, therefore, was an inevitable option, but it could not compete on equal terms with the naturally endowed and more technologically advanced.
The only option, therefore, was to provide such countries with favourable market access conditions and allow them to maintain a certain level of export competitiveness, he said. A combination of a meaningful level of trade preferences and possibly a price guarantee were crucial for those countries. That would enable them to benefit from globalization and ensure that trade contributed effectively to their development. Open markets alone were not sufficient, however. Generous market conditions in the absence of the capacity to produce would be meaningless. Small island developing States were confronted with acute capacity constraints. If trade was to be the engine of growth, it was imperative that the problem of supply capacity also be addressed as a matter of priority. The concerted efforts of international institutions were crucial in that regard. Also welcome was the recent move aimed at cancelling the debt of the 18 highly indebted poor countries, he said.
THIERRY BRETON, Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry of France, stressing the power of trade as an engine for development, said his country would ensure that the Doha negotiations fully considered the needs of developing countries. France and its European partners had striven to reduce export subsidies, and had launched the “Everything but Arms” initiative for least developed countries to ensure that all benefited from the multilateral trading system. Stressing that debt relief was also necessary to spur on development, he added that the Group of 8 finance ministers had agreed last week to forgive the multilateral debt of heavily indebted poor countries to international financial institutions.
Unless stable, long-term finance was provided, development projects with high recurrent costs, especially in education and health, could not be successfully completed, he said. Noting that new sources of financing were needed to fund long-term strategies driving sustainable development, he said there was a growing international commitment to include such mechanisms within existing instruments to finance development. France, Brazil, Chile and Germany were calling for the rapid implementation of a pilot “solidarity levy based on airline tickets”. The levy level could vary for different classes of travel, or even reflect a country’s wealth, and distinction could be made between domestic and international flights. Subject to the sovereignty of participating countries, the levy funds could be earmarked to finance the most urgent human development programmes, such as vaccination campaigns and the pooled purchase of HIV/AIDS treatments.
He said the airline sector had been targeted because it had considerably benefited from trade globalization and paid low tax rates. With expected annual growth of about 5 per cent per year over the next decade, a fixed low-rate levy and exemption for passengers in transit would not handicap airlines, even if some countries did not join the initiative. It had also been chosen because air passengers were rarely among the poorest citizens in their respective countries, and the practical and legal feasibility of a solidarity levy on airline tickets had been proven. Just a year ago, the very idea of an international levy had been considered inappropriate, but now many international forums had added the issue to their agendas. Many countries of both the North and South had already pledged support, and others were planning to join in the near future.
MOHAMED NOURI JOUINI, Minister of Development and International Development of Tunisia, said that, unless there was financing, there could be no development. External financing available to developing countries was always inadequate. It was necessary to apply the right policies to mobilize national savings. That meant involving all citizenry to determine what the country’s basic choices were, and recognizing the link between economic and social development. International financial support must be provided to countries that were able to apply economic and political reforms. Those countries must be encouraged to reform further. It was in the interest of all that economic development be expanded to all people and that there be general social progress.
The support of the international community must continue for middle-income countries, to ensure a proper balance of development among regions, he said. Official development assistance must be increased and meet the targets set at international conferences. There could also be new and innovative sources of financing. The General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session had adopted a resolution establishing the World Solidarity Fund, to be financed by voluntary contributions from governments, civil society and the private sector. Now was the time for the Fund to start working.
Tunisia, he said, was ready to share its experiences on handling assistance, on how to better manage and utilize resources, and how to involve the private sector more in growth. International trade was a real catalyst in reducing poverty. The international community, within the WTO negotiations, must ensure that trade could play its full part in promoting economic growth and development for all. In 2005, Tunisia would host the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which should offer up new opportunities for international cooperation in the area of development. The Summit was expected to adopt a plan of action so that all countries could benefit from the digital revolution.
ANDREW NATSIOS, Administrator of the Agency for International Development of the United States, stressed that achieving the Millennium Goals was not just about mobilizing ODA, but also increasing its effectiveness and sustainability. Countries that had proven their commitment to change -– by governing justly, investing in their people, and maintaining policies and institutions supporting market-led growth -- would receive billions of dollars from the Millennium Challenge Corporation in coming years.
To assist States in crisis and conflict return to stability and get on the path to sustained growth, the United States had recently announced that it would provide an additional $674 million for humanitarian emergencies in Africa this year, he said. Too often, however, emergency response was separated from development, as though they were not related. African States would be condemned to further instability and lack of progress towards the Millennium Goals, if the international community failed to respond to the current food emergency.
There was ample evidence that ODA was not usually the limiting factor on national development, he said. Rather, it was a function of country commitment and political will to rule justly, promote economic freedom and invest in people. The Report of the United Nations Commission on the Private Sector and Development estimated that developing countries had $9.4 trillion in private assets that could not be fully mobilized, largely due to corruption and inadequate legal protection for property and contracts. Competitive, well regulated private markets were indispensable as the most effective institutions ever devised for allocating resources efficiently, fostering innovation, and communicating information to assist producers and consumers in making decisions. Regulatory frameworks should aim to build the public’s confidence in private markets to protect property, enforce contracts and generally respect the rule of law.
ERROL CORT, Minister of Finance and Economy of Antigua and Barbuda, said that, to tackle debt, he recommended a partnership initiative between highly indebted small States and developed countries that specifically targeted the reduction of unsustainable debt. He further recommended that the initiative become part of the international community’s agenda for financing for development. He also implored Member States that were major creditors to small developing States to work more closely with them to reduce the unsustainable debt burdens that hindered economic growth and development.
On trade, he noted that small developing States had to struggle tremendously against competition in a global trading system. He emphasized the importance of a pro-development global trading system that adequately addressed asymmetries between developed and developing countries, as well as asymmetries among developing countries. He implored the more affluent countries to recognize that the options available to small and highly vulnerable States in a globalized trading regime were minimal.
He said that FDI was an important component for successful economic growth strategies. His country had taken a number of initiatives to create an enabling environment conducive to attracting FDI. Further, it was seeking to implement a set of policies to increase the positive impact of FDI on its national development goals. He also urged greater progress in promoting the sort of international cooperation necessary to manage the risks that could deter investors from bringing much needed capital, technology and jobs to where they were most needed.
NGUYEN SINH HUNG, Minister of Finance of Viet Nam, said there was still much to be done to fully and comprehensively implement the Monterrey Consensus. First, in order to achieve targets of economic growth, social development and human development, developing countries needed to mobilize domestic and external financial resources by measures to improve revenue to government budget, develop domestic markets, reform the legal framework and create a conducive climate for foreign investment. Domestic resources would always play a decisive role, while external resources were necessary for financing for development.
Second, he said, developed countries should speed up the implementation of their commitment of 0.7 per cent of GNP for ODA, provide financing on more favourable terms and lessen financing conditions. He welcomed recent initiatives on debt forgiveness and looked forward to their early implementation. In addition, he wished the international community would accord a more equal and important role and position to developing countries in the formulation of international policies on development, investment, financial and monetary issues. He wished that developed countries would further open their markets, remove non-tariff barriers to trade and maintain preferential treatment to support the least developed and developing countries to effectively participate in the international trading system.
FAYZA ABOULNAGA, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt, said that, without real and concrete steps to support the efforts aimed at achieving the internationally agreed development goals, the Monterrey Consensus would remain no more than ink on paper. Therefore, she believed in working towards the achievement of several principles and objectives. Among them was to provide the necessary national policy space for developing countries, to enable them to adequately address the needs of their people, and to choose their national priorities and options, without imposing conditionalities or international commitments that would hinder their national development efforts.
The second, she said, was to enable the United Nations to play a key role in the area of development to ensure the efficient execution of its responsibilities. Third, she believed the 0.7 per cent ODA goal should be achieved more expeditiously and by all developed countries. Fourth, developed countries should give particular attention to the views of developing countries in the review of the effectiveness of development assistance programmes, both at the national and international levels. Fifth, welcoming the recent Group of 8 announcement to cancel the debt of some countries, she emphasized the importance of debt relief for middle-income countries, where 70 per cent of the world’s poor resided.
Sixth, she continued, it was important to give priority to addressing the special and urgent needs of Africa. Seventh, the Assembly’s high-level meeting in September should give a clear and unequivocal message stressing the development aspects of the Doha trade round, and the need to respond to the needs of developing countries within an adequate time frame that would allow for such an agreement to be reached. Eight, the idea of reforming the United Nations should be extended by adopting concrete and practical steps towards enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in the decision-making and norm-setting processes of the international economic, financial and trading systems.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, noted that trade liberalization and improved multilateral trade rules could play a vital role in achieving the Millennium Goals. Stressing that the special needs of weak and vulnerable developing countries should be fully reflected in the outcome of the December’s WTO meeting, he encouraged its members to step up efforts to implement the outcome of the Doha Agenda. Developed members, and developing members in a position to do so, should provide duty-free and quota-free market access for all products originating in least developed countries. In integrating into the international trading system, developing countries would also need trade-related assistance and support for supply-side development.
Increased ODA was also urgently needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said, adding that its member countries were on track to achieve the 0.39 per cent target in 2006 for ODA, and that they had agreed last week for a collective target of 0.7 per cent by 2015. In addition to ODA, the Union supported the idea of innovative financing mechanisms, including the International Finance Facility, and international solidarity levees. There was also a need to improve the quality of aid, which worked best when harmonized between donors, coordinated around country-owned strategies and processes, focused on the poorest, was delivered unconditionally and predictably, and provided in the context of other policies supporting development.
The Union remained committed to finding solutions to unsustainable debt burdens, he continued, and welcomed progress made by the IMF and World Bank in preparing their debt sustainability framework, as well as the Group of 8’s proposal to cancel debt stock of heavily indebted poor countries. It was crucial that donors honoured their commitments to compensate institutions for the costs of debt cancellation, so that the financial integrity of those institutions would be left intact.
MUSTAPA MOHAMED, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia, said that three years after Monterrey, the lack of financial resources had stymied the efforts of developing countries to achieve their development goals. Poverty was a serious obstacle to human development. Thanks to the policies undertaken by his country, its poverty rate had declined in the past decade. For developing countries, an active private sector could contribute to growth and development. An increasingly private sector-led economy had expanded Malaysia’s growth, enhanced its ability to adapt and undertake change, and improved efficiency, productivity and competitiveness.
He emphasized the difficulties faced by developing countries in integrating themselves into the international trade system. It was imperative that the imbalances and asymmetries, including the lack of market access, be given high priority. In addition to poverty alleviation, it was important to ensure adequate infrastructure to facilitate development. However, the cost of building infrastructure was very high, and most poor countries could not afford it. There was a need to seriously consider the setting up of a dedicated pool of international financing for the development of infrastructure in developing countries. Also, he noted that South-South cooperation had become an effective approach in strengthening partnership. His country was prepared to share its experiences in development and poverty eradication.
He hoped that developed countries would coordinate their economic policies so that the benefits of growth would trickle down to the developing countries. Today’s dialogue should renew the resolve to achieve the Millennium Goals, eradicate poverty and bring prosperity to all.
BERHANE ABREHE, Minister of Finance of Eritrea, said the financial resources needed to achieve the Millennium Goals were beyond the reach of most low-income and least developed countries. Their social, economic and physical infrastructures were at such low levels that they constrained the productive capacity of human resources, and limited trade and regional integration. Many sub-Saharan nations were in, or just coming out of, ruinous conflict.
He said Eritrea was projected to achieve most of the millennium targets by 2015, although that was no cause for real celebration. First, the country was off track in two crucial areas –- eradication of extreme poverty and achievement of universal primary education. Second, the Goals represented only the minimum benchmarks, rather than the culmination, of full development. Third, Eritrea’s road map to 2015 was prepared under certain assumptions, including the resolution of the “no-war no-peace” situation, the absence of drought, the robust performance of the economy, and the fulfilment of the financial commitment of development partners in the Monterrey Consensus.
Since 1991, Eritrea had been reconstructing the war-devastated transport and communication services sector, and the legal, social and institutional framework to achieve economic, social, cultural and political development had been established. In line with its policy of bridging the gap between the urban and rural sectors, the Government had invested heavily in rural schools, health systems, water and sanitary facilities, and rural roads. The private sector had invested in the services, construction and resource-based industries. However, the country now faced serious challenges on several fronts, including serious macroeconomic imbalances, annual economic growth of less than 2 per cent, and a skyrocketing government deficit.
Eritrea had faced such challenges because it had to defend its borders and ensure its sovereignty against repeated large-scale invasions by Ethiopia for three years -- 1998 to 2000. Perhaps even more damaging than the war itself was Ethiopia’s refusal to abide by the Boundary Commission’s final and binding decision and the international community’s unwillingness, so far, to enforce that decision. Moreover, as in many countries in the continent, Eritrea had experienced serious drought for the past three years, and reduced rainfall for the past five. It was also experiencing the shock of steep increases in the price of oil.
JUMA NGASONGWA, Minister for Industry and Trade of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that, despite its efforts, including the implementation of good governance, human rights and transparent policies, his country remained a least developed country with debilitating poverty, hunger and disease. Those efforts needed to be supported by the international community, multilateral financial institutions and development partners by fulfilling their obligations. First, he stressed the need to fully implement the ODA target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. Also, the provision of the additional $50 billion required annually by developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals needed to be fulfilled. Third, the conclusion of the Doha development round of trade negotiations was imperative. The WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December should strive to conclude that round by 2006, while placing development at the core of the negotiations.
Fourth, he continued, the elimination of all trade barriers, including subsidies, would create a level-playing field for the developing and developed countries in the multilateral trading system. Fifth, market access for developing countries, as well as quota-free and duty-free market access for all products from least developed countries, needed to be assured. Last, but not least, developing countries needed assistance to overcome supply-side constraints, increase productive capacities, add value to their products, develop human capacity and build infrastructure, among other things.
YENDJA YENTCHABRE, Minister of Development, Town and Country Planning of Togo, said a national committee to follow up the Millennium Goals had been set up in his country, as well as an office to draft and implement a poverty strategy reduction paper. An interim paper had been transmitted to the IMF and World Bank to initiate negotiations for various programmes to bolster financial programmes. It had been discovered that only three of the eight Millennium Goals could be achieved in Namibia -- those of achieving universal primary education, eliminating HIV/AIDS, and reducing maternal mortality rates.
He said Togo had not received any specific assistance as a result of the Monterrey commitments, and its domestic resources were barely enough to cover current expenditures. The drastic reduction in external financial assistance had led to a grave deterioration in living conditions for the country’s people. Togo’s political situation was now stable and the country was committed to democratising its institutions. The country was attempting to improve its macroeconomic situation to create a favourable environment for investment, which was considered vital for development.
NENEH MACDOUALL-GAYE, Secretary of State for Trade, Industry and Employment of the Gambia, emphasized the special needs of Africa in achieving development. The context for financing Africa’s development had been defined. What was needed now was support for Africa to implement its poverty-eradication strategies. Achieving ODA targets was crucial for meeting the Millennium Development Goals. It was also important to improve the quality and effectiveness of ODA. Initiatives such as the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness were a step in the right direction. It was necessary to see predictable ODA flows.
She said the recent decision by the Group of 8 to cancel the debt of 18 HIPC was welcome and a sign of greater things to come. She hoped that gesture would be extended to other countries, including her own. She congratulated those countries that had reached or passed the 0.7 ODA target and commended the European Union’s commitment to meeting that target.
Over and above ODA, trade was an important source of development financing, as well as an important engine of growth. She would like to see the elimination of trade-distorting policies and the removal of barriers that prevented access to markets for products of developing countries. She supported initiatives for innovative sources of financing. Her country was committed to the Millennium Development Goals, which were the benchmarks for the Gambia’s development strategies. Improving financing for development for small least developed countries like hers was crucial for their attempts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and development, in general.
RAFAEL CORREA, Minister of Economy and Finance of Ecuador, said the Monterrey Consensus must become a permanent commitment for all developed countries to assist with development. For its part, Ecuador had failed to mobilize sufficient financial resources for development, due to the high cost of its external debt, the unjust condition of international trade, financial crises, and a lack of national vision. Moreover, foreign organizations had forced the Government to immobilize the country’s financial savings.
Stressing the importance of a social component, if stability was to be achieved in a country, he said social investment was a moral obligation, as well as a condition for economic efficiency. Remittances from Ecuadorians abroad had been an important source of development financing, but had also been costly, since the country had lost many young people who could find no employment at home.
He also emphasized the need to open up international trade, so that developing countries could benefit from wider markets. In addition, the international community had an obligation to provide more transparency into international financial decision-making. As for public debt, that would be reduced through fiscal discipline in developing countries, and also through international economic and financial conditions that promoted development.
JAMES SMITH, Minister of State for Finance of the Bahamas, endorsing the statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said his country had had made a concerted effort to enhance its economic and social infrastructure, improving strategic policy frameworks and national accounting systems, enabling the creation of innovative structures in support of entrepreneurship and private-sector development, as well bolstering legislative frameworks in the fight against corruption and money laundering. It had also embraced the opportunities presented by globalization, making the necessary investments in human and physical capital to enable an innovative and productive economy. But the country continued to face daunting challenges posed by its small size and attendant vulnerabilities, while attempts to build resilience were constrained by global governance and systemic imbalances, which frustrated meaningful integration into the global economy.
There was a definite need for concrete, realistic proposals to ensure the effective, permanent representation of developing countries, particularly small developing countries, in the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, as well as other bodies like the Financial Stability Forum (FSF), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Basel Committee, he said. The Bahamas acknowledged with optimism the growing momentum to introduce balance and evenness into the processes governing several international institutions. It welcomed the WTO work programme to make the negotiation processes more inclusive and transparent, as well as the positive developments in the area of international cooperation in tax matters, namely: the proposed expansion of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Forum to involve all significant financial centres of the world; the current assessment of information sharing and transparency practices in all OECD and other significant financial centres to determine how level the playing field was in those areas; and, most importantly, the establishment of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters within the Economic and Social Council.
He said that the establishment of that Committee ensured that the interests of all Member States, but particularly small developing States with different tax regimes, would be factored into discussions and recommendations aimed at adopting mutually agreed standards that did not unduly favour the wealthy nations at the expense of meaningful development in non-OECD member countries and jurisdictions. Regrettably, there had been less positive developments in other standard setting bodies, most notably the FATF and the FSF. The latter had seen a resurgence of negative listings as punishment for non-compliance with standards set in the absence of the accused. In the case of the FATF, unilateral actions continued to be taken “in camera” without opportunities for condemned jurisdictions to face their accusers and defend their activities. Where was the fairness and transparency in such processes?
MANUEL CHANG, Minister of Finance of Mozambique, noting that the Monterrey Consensus had stressed the link between trade, development and financial aid, emphasized the importance of a more open, equitable and rule-based multilateral trading system for development, particularly in Africa. The Doha Round must be complete no later than 2006 to provide needed support to efforts to attain the Millennium Goals, and fulfil its development promise. The Monterrey Consensus was a vital landmark in the international community’s renewed commitment to increase contributions for international development.
He commended the setting up of new collective and specific targets for ODA in the European Union to reach 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2015, and called on other development partners to follow that example. Adding that debts recently cancelled by the Group of 8 finance ministers was also laudable, he encouraged those countries and others to continue to address the unsustainable debt burden of many developing countries, so that new resources could be invested in poverty reduction.
Increasing aid was also crucial to improve efforts of developing countries to reach the goal, but the improvement in quality of aid was vital in ensuring its effectiveness. The debate about aid effectiveness had tended to overlook the need for monitoring donor performance, and focused instead almost exclusively on monitoring the performance of recipient governments.
ROLAND PIERRE, Minister of External Cooperation and Planning of Haiti, said that any significant increase in financing would only come from a shift in demand. The supply of private financing was not something over which the national authorities had any influence. When a government took steps to stimulate investment, plans to find financing became more viable. Official development assistance was low compared to FDI. For example, 80 per cent of net external flows in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were private flows. The increase in external assistance was not free, since it came with certain conditions. The Bretton Woods institutions had made debt elimination conditional on the preparation of poverty-reduction strategies.
He said the responsibility for increasing financing for development was basically a domestic matter; the demand had to be changed. An interesting example was that of microcredit in Haiti. Today, all commercial banks in Haiti were involved in that endeavour. He also noted that the massive import of agricultural products had ruined many farmers. It was important to change the supply curve by making national projects more attractive and competitive.
ROGATIEN BIAOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Benin, said that commitments made at the third conference for least developed countries in Brussels were often divorced from promises made elsewhere, and development partners should focus their support on the Programme of Action drawn up there. The recent write-off of debt for heavily indebted poor countries, which would allow them to find new resources for development, should be extended to other developing countries. He also urged members of the G-8 to focus on eliminating cotton subsidies by 2010, and to evaluate the impact of such a measure at that time.
Requirements for development in least developed countries were not confined to financial resources, but extended to capital goods, he said. The attention of the international community must not be distracted from its existing commitments, which must be followed up with tangible results. Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus must be periodically monitored, as should commitments made at other conferences and summits, to determine any changes in developing country conditions.
AGUSTIN CARSTENS, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, said that the Fund’s key priorities in supporting country efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals were set out in the latest Global Monitoring Report, prepared in collaboration with the World Bank, he said. The IMF was at present reviewing the various elements of its low-income country work, with the aim of devising a comprehensive strategy for its role in helping them reach the Millennium Development Goals. Home-grown poverty-reduction strategies should be at the heart of development plans for low-income countries and IMF policy advice, and support for building sound institutions helped strengthen government capacity to mobilize domestic revenue and improve budgetary management. The Fund was also undertaking, jointly with the World Bank, an in-depth review of the poverty-reduction strategy initiative.
Describing stable and sustained growth as key ingredients for effective poverty reduction, he said that, increasingly, that also meant harnessing the benefits of FDI and private capital. Developing countries would need to create environments that were friendly to investment and business activity, including through the strengthening of institutions and governance. The IMF would continue to assist countries to strengthen financial sectors and adapt prudential and regulatory frameworks, so they could benefit more from private capital flows. Regarding international trade as an engine for development, low-income countries would not be able to achieve the kind of sustained and rapid growth that would lead to meaningful poverty reduction without more opportunities for trade. The IMF was firmly behind creating more trade opportunities for developing countries.
Reiterating the need for developed countries to raise aid levels to the 0.7 per cent of gross national income target set more than three decades ago, he said there was also a possible role for some of the alternative mechanisms proposed to increase aid volumes. The IMF fully supported the ongoing efforts to enhance overall aid effectiveness and to reduce transaction costs by simplifying and harmonizing donor procedures and requirements for aid delivery. The Fund also encouraged donors to align their support more fully with the country-led poverty-reduction strategies, consistent with the principle of full country ownership of the development efforts. As aid flows rose, the IMF would continue to provide assistance and advice to build up the capacities of aid-recipient countries to absorb and use those resources effectively.
The Fund was at the forefront of efforts to help countries achieve debt sustainability, he said. The principal consideration in that connection remained how to help countries achieve medium- to long-term debt sustainability with due regard to shorter-term objectives and goals. The IMF provided a large amount of assistance to countries in formulating and implementing fiscal policy, as well as in public expenditure management. Debt relief through the HIPC Initiative had already significantly reduced the debts of 27 countries. In addition, the Fund fulfilled a critical role in enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development. With increased trade and financial linkages among nations -- and strong connections between economic performance, poverty, and security issues -- international cooperation to address economic risks and threats was now more important than ever and IMF surveillance provided the foundation for international cooperation in that area.
FRANÇOIS BOURGUIGNON, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank, said the new consensus for action could be summarized in five core objectives. First, actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals must be anchored in strong country-led and country-specific development strategies, and special efforts must be made to harmonize donor activities in support of those country-led priorities in order to avoid duplication, ensure sound prioritization and minimize demands on valuable country capacity. Second, growth must be central to Millennium Development Goals strategies, which required strengthening the investment climate, fiscal management and infrastructure services. It also required continued improvements in governance, transparency and accountability. Developed and developing countries shared responsibilities to strengthen safeguards against corruption, increase transparency and take appropriate legal action when necessary.
Rapid scaling up of human development services was also critical to achieving human development goals, he said. Fourth was the need to accelerate growth for many developing countries, which required the dismantling of barriers to international trade and eliminating trade-distorting subsidies. The international community must aim for a successful Doha round. Finally, implementing those measures required substantial increases in the levels and effectiveness of aid. Those five core elements of a millennium development action programme were extremely challenging and demanding, but they could be done. Key to success would be both the reaffirmation of international commitment to the goals set out at Monterrey, as well as concrete evidence of string political support to advance the Monterrey compact.
There had already been some progress on several fronts, but in all cases more must be done, he stressed. There had also been progress in formulating new and innovative instruments for mobilizing additional financing for development, including the new debt-relief proposal tabled recently and, in particular, the commitment to fully cover the costs of debt relief. The task ahead now was implementation and four key elements were required in order to secure momentum and produce concrete results. The first step was to significantly scale up financial support to those countries that had detailed development strategies in place and under implementation. The second was to make a broad-based push to achieve the basic human development Millennium Development Goals -- in education for all, primary health-care delivery and the war against HIV/AIDS and other major illnesses in the developing world. Third, effective international engagement with fragile States was essential for global security, as well as for the 500 million people who lived there. And finally, the World Bank remained fully committed to development financing and support for the broad development agenda in both middle-income and low-income countries.
FRANCISCO THOMPSON-FLORES, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, said that trade was not the answer to all the world’s problems, and trade liberalization on its own was not enough to meet all the challenges faced by societies. But trade’s importance as a driver of growth was clear and a successful conclusion of the Doha round could make an enormous contribution to global efforts for poverty alleviation and development. That was where the WTO’s contribution to financing for development could be found. That was where its contribution to the millennium vision could be found. That was why he supported the challenge the Secretary-General had placed before world leaders for September -- to commit to complete the Doha round no later than 2006 and to ensure that the development promise of the round was fully realized.
Much remained to be done to realize the potential of trade as a tool for development, he said. Ambitious outcomes were needed in the core areas of the Doha agenda -- agriculture, non-agricultural market access, services and trade facilitation. Also, continuous progress on rule-making was needed, as well as an overall outcome that delivered on the development promise of the round. The plain fact was that a successful conclusion of the Doha negotiations would generate great trade opportunities. “It is a once in a generation opportunity.” Failure would be a setback for global economic management and contrary to the interests of the entire world community.
CARLOS FORTIN, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the international community must concentrate on opening up its markets, transferring technology and building up capacity to ensure lasting development for national economies. Effective and lasting FDI must be attracted to boost growth and development in poorer nations. An important challenge was to determine how corporations could contribute to achieving the Millennium Goals. The forthcoming economic development in Africa report should contribute to knowledge in that respect. Much must be accomplished in 2005, with particular focus on a schedule to eliminate export subsidies in developed countries, as well as quota-free and duty-free access for least developed countries to developed country markets.
Several initiatives had been undertaken to relieve developing country debt, including the decision of the Group of 8 countries to cancel the debt of heavily indebted poor countries. Remaining debt in other developing countries must also be considered, with a view to reducing or eliminating it. Finally, the increasing interdependence of national economies in a globalizing world underscored the need to increase participation, as well as transparency, in international financial decision-making.
MARK MALLOCH BROWN, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the United Nations Development Group, said that today’s focus was on preparations for the September Summit. The Assembly President’s draft outcome document built on the areas covered in the Monterrey Consensus -– aid, trade, debt and the need to ensure good governance. The President’s proposals represented a qualitative change to the understanding of international development cooperation. With the Millennium Development Goals as the objective, the Consensus was a pact between developed and developing countries, and a commitment by the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions to work together to support national efforts for the achievement of the Goals.
Looking at the road travelled since 2002, he noted the great strides made in the areas of ODA, debt and international trade. Today, more and more countries were committed to meet the 0.7 per cent target and some had reached 1 per cent. Also, the recent announcement by the Group of 8 to cancel the debt of 18 countries was a strong beginning. Despite slow starts, Monterrey did succeed in focusing on a trade round with a strong development core, and the Doha agenda was proceeding. Good governance, long a feature of the work of the United Nations, was now awarded a central place in the post-Monterrey world. Likewise, engagement with the Bretton Woods institutions, especially at the country level, had never been stronger.
The record of Monterrey was positive, he concluded. To fulfil the Monterrey Consensus, the world needed a strong United Nations, with coherent, well resourced operational activities for development. The spirit of Monterrey was consensus-building and not opposition, mutual commitments and not entitlement, shared responsibility in development and not rivalry. That was the spirit that must continue to guide the international community as it proceeded with preparations for the 2005 World Summit.
ICHIRO AISAWA, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that to secure sufficient financing for development, and to be effective, a comprehensive approach was needed. In order to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Japan would continue its efforts towards the goal of providing ODA equal to 0.7 per cent of its gross national income. Part of its strategy was the doubling of ODA to Africa over the next three years.
Among his Government’s efforts to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Goals was promoting the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) process. At the Conference held last year, participants agreed to cooperate with another to identify the market needs and promote the development of products that had comparative advantages, among other things. Also, Japan hosted a High-level Forum on the Health Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific last week. A “Health and Development Initiative” was launched, which underscored the importance of improving the health of individuals in developing countries.
To help achieve sustainable poverty reduction in Africa, and to support the development of the private sector, his Government would initiate, in partnership with the African Development Bank, a soft-loan facility totalling $1.2 billion over the next five years. Japan would also help implement some of the initiatives in the context of the “New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership Plan of Action”, announced at the Asia-Africa Summit in April, for human resources development and capacity-building.
E. AHAMED, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said the absence of substantial progress in increasing ODA to meet the Millennium Goals had prompted exploration of innovative financing mechanisms. Proposals ranged from an international travel surcharge to a variant of the Tobin tax and allocation of developmental special drawing rights (SDRs) to an international finance facility. It was important to ensure that ODA did not fall below a pre-committed level, and new mechanisms and sources must not place greater burdens on developing countries. Innovative financial mechanisms and innovative sources of financing should not impact adversely on the existing level of resource flows.
While ODA would help to achieve the Goals, trade would assist in sustaining the gains, he said. The Doha round should be development-oriented in reality and brought to a rapid conclusion. Major reform of agricultural subsidies policies in developed countries was needed, so that agriculture could become an engine of growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. Liberalization of service sectors to facilitate exports, and removal of service provision restrictions, would be essential to allow countries to reap the benefits of their comparative advantages.
He noted that statistics from sub-Saharan Africa demonstrated that debt-constrained structural adjustment policies had compounded the problem through decline in agricultural investment. Any achievement of the Millennium Goals, leading to real economic transformation, was hardly possible without a fundamental reform of international economic and monetary institutions. Democratic deficit in the governance of the Bretton Woods institutions must be addressed to enhance legitimacy, transparency, accountability and ownership of decision-making processes.
MARJATTA RASI, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Finland, associating herself with the European Union, said that developing countries must design and implement strategies built on their national development priorities, improve policies and governance to achieve stronger economic growth and scale up the delivery of human services. Good governance and an efficient institutional framework must be in place to ensure that growth benefited the poor and was compatible with sustainable development. Yet, increased finance for development and improved effectiveness of aid remained central to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, efforts in that regard were still insufficient and much more had to be done. Current ODA levels had fallen short of the estimates of what was needed to meet the Goals.
Thanks to a growing sense of responsibility and commitment, some positive trends were emerging, she said. Official development assistance volumes were growing and donors were becoming more focused in their support, as sub-Saharan Africa received more attention. The challenges of reaching the Millennium Development Goals remained greatest in that region and its countries would, therefore, need a substantial increase in ODA to improve their prospects for progress. Finland welcomed the several positive signals related to the sustainable growth, improved governance and increased political stability in sub-Saharan Africa.
While welcoming the discussion on the new and innovative mechanisms proposed to enhance development finance flows to developing countries, she said, the Finnish Government had placed the emphasis on increasing its ODA to reach the 0.7 per cent target by 2010. Finland would, however, participate in the efforts to identify the most promising options in order to increase resources for development in a sustainable and predictable way. Aid must become more predictable because in many countries it was more volatile than fiscal revenue. In addition, progress on harmonization and alignment had been mixed and the agenda on managing for results was in its initial stages. Also, improving coherence between aid and trade policies by reforming trade and opening developed-country markets to the products of developing countries had been rightly identified as an important tool for development.
Turning to the challenges of coherence, coordination and cooperation among international organizations, she said the need for increased efforts to strengthen the entire multilateral system was widely acknowledged. The World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization called for a reform of global governance to ensure that globalization benefited all. The Helsinki Process, led jointly by the Governments of Finland and the United Republic of Tanzania, was also searching for new approaches to global problem solving. While there were no easy answers, the broad-based discussion involving governments, international organizations and civil society would contribute to a more coherent and equitable global system.
Welcoming the progress made in strengthening the multilateral system to promote development, she said that the annual spring meetings of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and UNCTAD had played an important role in maintaining the political momentum on financing for development and in providing a forum for an open dialogue among the leading multilateral actors. The meeting had developed into a strategic platform where collective action in support of the Monterrey Consensus and the Millennium Development Goals could be enhanced through joint discussions.
HELMUT ANGULA, Director-General of the National Planning Commission of Namibia, said the development task ahead would depend on whether the international community took concerted action in assisting countries unlikely to achieve the Millennium Goals. The recent initiative by the G-8 nations to cancel debt was welcome, but must be extended to include more developing countries. Developed countries must provide market access for developing countries, as well as eliminate subsides and other trade-distorting measures if developing countries were to achieve a manageable level of debt.
For more that 35 years, developed countries had pledged to give 0.7 per cent of their GDP as ODA to developing countries, but so far only about five countries had done so, he said. Developed partners should heed the Secretary-General’s call to set time frames for achieving that target before 2015. They should also minimize or eliminate unfair conditionalities attached to developing country assistance. Developing countries had made progress in achieving institutional reforms, governance and other related issues, and development partners should deliver on commitments they had made.
PETER ADAMS, Executive Director of the Agency for International Development of New Zealand, said that 2005 could and should be a watershed year for the United Nations and development. Among recent trends, he noted that ODA was rising steadily in real terms, and there was significant progress in reducing the debt of poor countries. Also, talks were under way to liberalize the global trading environment. The Doha round had clear potential to help developing countries lift themselves out of poverty.
He wished to focus on three key messages in moving forward from the High-level Dialogue to the September Summit. First, he said that everyone acknowledged that more aid was needed to achieve the Millennium Goals and other development targets. New Zealand had recently committed to substantial increases in ODA volume, including its largest increase ever. Associated with increases in volume, he would like to see the September Summit give impetus to measures to enhance aid effectiveness. He welcomed the focus on aid effectiveness within the United Nations system. More work was needed to ensure that the United Nations system worked in more closely with its partners.
Second, it was important for the Summit to acknowledge countries in special circumstances, such as small island developing States. The Summit should give a substantial boost to the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. Lastly, issues of environmental sustainability were inextricably linked to development. A constructive international dialogue was urgently needed on action for climate change. As the Secretary-General had stated, a more inclusive international framework for climate change beyond 2012 must be developed.
JOÃO GOMES CRAVINHO, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, said that mobilizing domestic financial resources was central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, for which the primary responsibility lay with the developing countries, themselves. Nevertheless, the manner in which donor countries brought their policies to bear upon the aid relationship had a powerful impact. In post-conflict countries or fragile States, for example, it was fundamental that donors and recipient governments work together to develop a sensitive approach to that matter. Portugal was very attentive to the issue of domestic resource mobilization and would continue to work with partner countries in that regard.
He said that the mobilization of international resources for the development of FDI and other private flows directly challenged donor countries to play their part. Portugal was currently outlining a new development cooperation strategy, in order to improve efficiency, effectiveness, coherence, sustainability, and expenditure planning of national aid policy on a long-term basis. The Millennium Development Goals formed a central source of inspiration for that new strategy, which would usher in the creation of a development finance mechanism to help mobilize private resource flows and strengthen synergies between foreign direct investment and ODA. In terms of public resources, Portugal expected to achieve by 2010 the 0.51 per cent ODA target. Portuguese aid was particularly focused on the least developed countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and it had already exceeded the United Nations’ target in that regard.
While there was much progress to be made internationally to achieve the commitments of resource flows, it had become clear over the years that greater creativity was required to identify new mechanisms for financing development cooperation within a sustainable international framework, he said. In that regard, he subscribed to the European Union position regarding the International Finance Facility. Further efforts should be dedicated to finding ways of promoting better international burden-sharing for that global concern. Portugal would increase its participation in international efforts towards global development. It viewed the Millennium Development Goals as a dynamic and multidimensional process, which required a serious and responsible response by all countries. Of utmost importance was the participation of the developing countries in the international decision-making process, as was ownership, accountability and good governance.
GIUSEPPE DRAGO, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said ODA should represent only one part of a broader strategy that provided for actions to grow the domestic financial market, attract foreign capital, solve the problem of foreign debt, and review the rules and procedures of international trade and finance. Italy was committed to achieving the 0.7 per cent ODA target by 2015. The achievement of that goal would require a major effort for his country, considering the economic difficulties and budgetary constraints imposed by the European Union’s fiscal regulations.
Italy, he said, had directed to sub-Saharan Africa more than 40 per cent of its development cooperation resources both bilaterally and multilaterally. The effective pursuit of the Millennium Goals required the re-establishment of full debt sustainability. Since 2001, Italy had cancelled $2.7 billion in debt of HIPC countries and was planning to cancel up to $4.5 billion. His country was also committed to a series of other initiatives in a variety of sectors on behalf of developing countries. Among them, Italy was proposing an initiative to promote research into new vaccines against the most widespread epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
OSKARAS JUSYS, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that the year 2005 marked one third of the way towards 2015 as a keystone year when the Millennium Goals should be achieved. It was of paramount importance to ask what had been done since 2000 when world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration. Poverty, hunger and communicable diseases, as well as global terrorism, still caused deep troubles in the developing world. In some regions, despite efforts, poverty had even increased. Nonetheless, important and positive steps to eliminate those problems had been made both by developed and developing countries.
Just a few weeks ago, he said, unique solidarity had been proved after the European Union Council adopted a new collective European Union ODA target of 0.56 per cent of gross national income by 2010, which would result in an additional annual 20 billion euros. While welcoming such initiatives, he strongly believed that mobilization of local resources, commitment for good governance and ownership and the ability to absorb assistance for the implementation of reforms should be further strengthened by developing countries. Trade liberalization and investment promotion should play a significant and complementary role in the achievement of the Millennium Goals.
BRUCE BILLSON, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, urged developed and developing countries to accord the highest priority to completing the WTO Doha round by 2006. Agricultural liberalization would mean eliminating agricultural export subsidies, reducing trade-distorting domestic support, and lowering tariffs to provide substantial improvement in market access. A more open trading environment should be accompanied by good governance to create an environment for private sector development and employment, so that the poor could participate in the economy and improve their livelihoods. Promoting macroeconomic stability and the rule of law, ensuring property rights, and tackling corruption were central to those efforts.
In considering global developmental needs, it was important to recognize that the Asia-Pacific region contained more than a quarter of the world’s least developed countries and more than two thirds of the world’s poor, he said. Through its location and historical ties, Australia had extensive experience with the difficulties faced by small Pacific islands, and had recently increased its involvement with Pacific partners. In ensuring that its aid programme was effective, well targeted and relevant to the emerging needs of its partners, the Government was preparing a strategic aid outlook in its White Paper on Australia’s Aid Programme. The Paper would draw on the best available external expertise and involve consultations in partner countries, with other donors and civil society, as well as academic institutions.
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