G7 announce debt relief plan

Saturday, February 5, 2005

London, UK —The quarterly G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' meeting at Lancaster House concluded on February 5, 2005, with the G7 failing to agree on a plan to reduce debt in developing countries. According to the Los Angeles Times, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown announced that he believes, "this summit will be remembered as the summit for 100% debt relief" for the 27 countries involved in the Enhanced HIPC Initiative. Ministers from other G7 countries disagreed. Brown's so-called International Financial Facility proposal, or IFF, "would not work for the U.S," Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury John Taylor said to the Los Angeles Times.

The joint statement issued by the ministers in the wake of the conference stated that, "We are agreed on a case-by-case analysis of HIPC countries, based on our willingness to provide as much as 100 per cent multilateral debt relief." The ministers did not cite a figure for the minimum amount of debt relief that would be provided.

The conference was preceded by a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on the theme of "Make Poverty History." Nelson Mandela spoke at the demonstration, attended by an estimated 20,000 people, according to World Development Movement, an organization involved in the planning of the event. Chancellor Brown invited Mandela to address the G7 on February 4, 2005, which he did in a "fireside chat," according to Larry Elliott of The Guardian.

The G7, or 'Group of Seven,' is a coalition of seven major industrial democracies: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and Canada. They hold quarterly meetings to discuss financial matters.