World Aid and Trade Accord Reached : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


World Aid and Trade Accord Reached

by CONSTANT BRAND Associated Press Writer

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Poor and wealthy countries agreed on a new aid and trade partnership Sunday aimed at bringing the most destitute countries out of poverty in 10 years time.

While admitting that the past two United Nations conferences on poverty-- in 1981 and 1990-- failed to improve economic conditions in the world's 49 poorest nations, representatives at the end of a weeklong meeting set out a new plan to end the decline.

''We do not want another conference,'' said Donald Kaberuka, finance minister from Rwanda. ''In 10 years we should have met the needs of some 600 million people living in poverty.''

The 60-page plan sets out commitments for both wealthy and poor countries to provide greater development aid, and debt relief, as well as giving greater priorities to trade and investment.

The plan also calls for several trust funds to be set up to improve food safety, foreign investment, as well as a $10 billion global fund to fight AIDS and other diseases.

Poul Nielson, the European Union's development commissioner, was optimistic that the number of poorest countries could be cut but warned it was up to all participants to cooperate and implement the new 10-year plan.

In a declaration, participants said they had a ''shared responsibility'' to eradicate poverty and deprivation of some 630 million people who live on less than a dollar a day.

Despite decades of global growth and development aid, the number of countries the United Nations calls ''least developed'' -- those with per capita income of less than $900 a year and scarce investment in health, nutrition and education -- has nearly doubled since 1971, from 25 to 49.

The United Nations has said aid to those countries-- mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia but also Haiti and some Pacific island nations-- has dropped by 45 percent since 1990.

At the start of the meeting on Monday, leaders from the world's poorest nations urged richer countries to deliver practical results.

''We should be ashamed of ourselves that we could not deliver in the past,'' said Eveline Herfkens, Dutch minister for development and cooperation. ''We as a donor community have to commit ourselves.''

As part of the plan donor countries said they would cancel more outstanding debts for the poorest countries, a key demand by the 49 at the meeting. Donors also promised to offer them special status within the World Trade Organization.

Participants agreed to increase development aid was also agreed to and reduce the conditions such aid comes with. Much aid obliges recipient countries to spend the money on products and services from donors.

Out of $8 billion of development aid, $5 billion will now be sent with no strings attached, officials said.

In trade, the conference agreed to offer the 49 nations ''duty free and quota free market access'' on goods coming from these countries, but failed to give a date by which this could be applied.

It was made clear, that new aid would come at the condition that poorer countries move to implement not only economic reforms, but political ones too, including improvement of human rights and democracy, and reducing corruption.

Aid groups criticized the plan for not setting dates by which market access could be achieved.

''We get the impression that there was not any political will ... it was not ambitious,'' said Anna Eriksson, speaking for the Non-Governmental Organization Forum -- representing hundreds of aid and charity groups active in the world's poorest nations.


On the Net:

Conference Web site:

The NGO Forum: http//

AP-NY-05-20-01 1531EDT< 

-- Rachel Gibson (, May 20, 2001


Thanks Rachel Gibson for all your work.

-- David Williams (, May 21, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ