Blair: G8 leaders announce $50 billion aid increase; talks on trade and climate change

Friday, July 8, 2005

British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced at a press conference today the results of the 31st G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Blair, the seven other leaders of the G8 nations, and the leaders of Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania stood on the step of Gleneagles to address the press. The Prime Minster said "We speak today in the shadow of terrorism but it will not obscure what we came here to achieve."

Among the decisions made was a commitment to another $48 billion (£28.8 billion) per year by 2010 in aid which Blair says can indeed, in time and if properly seen through, will make "very substantial progress" towards "making poverty history". The deal was secured following a last-minute commitment by Japan.

Half of this aid will be sent to Africa. Some analysts have raised fears that African economies will not be able to absorb so much aid so quickly, and that the money could fuel corruption.

Only $20 billion of this deal is new money - the rest has already been pledged on previous occasions.

The US, Germany and Italy rejected a plan by Blair to double aid immediately by borrowing against future aid budgets.

"It isn't the end of poverty in Africa, but it is the hope that it can be ended," Blair said. "It isn't all everyone wanted, but it is progress - real and achievable progress. It is the definitive expression of our collective will to act in the face of death and disease and conflict that is preventable"

There will also be further pushes towards ending the debt of the poorest nations, but only confirmed a earlier deal to cancel the debts of 18 countries.

Campaigners have welcomed the news, but have said that it does not go far enough, falling short of the hopes of the people who had embraced the Live 8 and Make Poverty History drives.

"Today the G8 have chosen not to do all that campaigners insist is necessary to free people trapped in the prison of poverty," the Make Poverty History read this evening. "But more action is urgently needed if they are to play their role in bringing about real change for the world's poorest people."

The leaders also pledged to end farm subsidies - but did not say by when. However, they called for talks on trade liberalisation to reach a conclusion by the end of 2006.

The Prime Minister was cautious not to "over-sell" the decisions that had been made but he was resolute and confident in the possibilities for progress in the future.

Less progress was made in the realm of climate change with countries agreeing that climate change was a problem but without any concrete decisions. Talks will be held on the matter, particularly with China and India, beginning in November.

The G8 have also announced a $3 billion aid package for the Palestinian Authority.