Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pious G8 are Insulting, Murderous or Both

Sunday Herald - In Cologne in 1999, a promise was made to write off $150bn owed by the 42 poorest countries. Five years later, less than 20% of the proposed debt cancellation had gone ahead.

According to the World Development Movement, British aid is being deployed to foist water privatisation on dirt-poor countries desperate for reliable supplies. Meanwhile, subsidised European produce is dumped on African markets. The fact is that the G8 nations are spending between $350bn and $450bn annually subsidising agribusiness while using trade barriers to blackmail developing countries into allowing advantages for multinationals.

America’s subsidised cotton has helped to drag down prices and cripple sub-Saharan exports. When American food aid arrives, it tends to be of the unwelcome GM variety. In fact, the G8’s fine words on trade can take your breath away. At a previous summit they called on Africa to clamp down on illegal arms sales, apparently forgetting that 80% of the weapons sold to the developing world are supplied by G8 nations.

As for aid, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, greeted with fanfare a few years back, is already being described by the World Bank as “failing”. But how was it to work? The rich chipped in a one-off $1bn for an Africa paying $15bn annually in debt payments. When half of African countries are spending more on debt than on health, when vastly more money is flowing out Western banks than is granted in aid, the pious words of the G8 are insulting, murderous, or both.

Why are African nations to be treated as supplicants when being robbed blind by their supposed benefactors? Why bother with a G8 at all?


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