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One Year after G8 Summit on Extreme Poverty

Foreign Policy Magazine writes:
Each year the Center for Global Development and FOREIGN POLICY look past the rhetoric to measure how rich-country governments are helping or hurting poor countries. How much aid are they giving? How high are their trade barriers against imports such as cotton from Mali or sugar from Brazil? Are they working to slow global warming? Are they making the world’s sea lanes safe for global trade?
The Netherlands wins this year's competition, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Germany ranks at the 9th place and the United States at the 13th. Japan lost again.
British Times two months ago, that little has improved since last year's G8 summit on Africa and the Make Poverty History campaign due to leadership failures and aid cuts:
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, is to chair an international group set up by Tony Blair to monitor pledges made to help Africa at last year’s G8 summit, the Prime Minister will announce today. Bob Geldof, the Live8 organiser, and President Obasanjo of Nigeria will also be on the Africa Progress Panel, which will be funded by Bill Gates.
The Atlantic Review wrote about the magnitude of poverty and a popular myth:
Around 29,000 under-fives die every day from causes that are easily prevented, such as diarrhoeal dehydration, acute respiratory infections, measles and malaria. According to a poll, most Americans believe that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.
Related post: Fair trade and more aid.

Bush and Merkel Grill a Pig and Agree on the Middle East

President Bush visited Chancellor Merkel on her home turf in the northeast of Germany prior to attending the G8-Summit in Russia. It was the president's first trip to Germany since Merkel has taken office and his third visit to Germany as president. Merkel has been to Washington twice since taking over as chancellor in November 2005.
Apparently a number of issues were discussed, like Iran, Lebanon, Russia and Murat Kurnaz, the Guantanamo detainee from Germany. The press focused on the wild boar barbeque as the highlight of the Bush-Merkel "lovefest" aka "politische Liebeserklärungen". The BBQ is considered a gesture to President Bush, who considers personal relations as extremely important. In return, President Bush again praised Chancellor Merkel's leadership. He also credited Merkel for convincing him to join the negotiations about Iran's nuclear program.
At least one American TV station exaggerated the anti-Bush protests: "Around 5,000 protesters did their best to interrupt the outdoor meeting and meal." However, that was the number of expected protestors. In fact, only a small group of some 600-1000 demonstrators took to the streets far away from the Merkel-Bush meeting. The loudest protest President Bush heard were the cries of a baby he picked up, as this ABC affiliate reported as well.

Reuters surprises with:
Several western nations have asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to mediate in the Middle East conflict, weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. The United States asked Merkel to speak to Israeli officials and she told them Lebanon was in a fragile state and should not be destabilised, the magazine said, in a preview of its latest weekly edition. (...)
Germany has acted as a mediator between Israel and Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hizbollah in the past. Steinmeier said he had been in intensive talks in recent days with officials in the region, including the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt and Syria.
Stefan Nicola, Germany correspondent for United Press International writes about "A U.S.-German romance": Continue reading "Bush and Merkel Grill a Pig and Agree on the Middle East"

Merkel and Bush coordinate Iran policy

On her second trip to Washington within four months, Chancellor Merkel described a nuclear Iran as unacceptable according to the White House transcript of the press conference with President Bush:
We've addressed a number of issues here today of regional concern, chief among them is Iran, where we are in total agreement, saying that under no circumstances must Iran be allowed to come into possession of a nuclear weapon. We are in agreement, also, that a diplomatic solution needs to be found, and we do see good chances for bringing this about. But we also think that it is essential, in this context, that the clear resolve of the international community is shown by standing united, by showing cohesion on this matter.
While the U.S. wants to see economic sanctions as soon as possible, Merkel emphasizes a gradual process aimed at getting Russia's and China's support:
If one wants to see this conclude to a diplomatic success, to actually do this on a step-by-step basis. Quite often, attempts have been made to rush matters, and to actually pre-empt what should be at the end of the process and to take the next -- the other next step before the next one. And I really do think that on this one in order to pursue this diplomatic process successfully we need to pursue this on a step-by-step basis. It's happening now.
The last remark refers to the U.N. Security Council resolution introduced by Britain and France that "would be legally binding and set the stage for sanctions against Iran if the nation does not abandon uranium enrichment." President Bush refused to answers the press' questions on his plans for sanctions. Russia and China have so far opposed sanctions. Merkel, however, met with Russian President Putin last week and will travel to China on May 21. Andrew Kamons, one of the editors of Foreign Policy, praises Germany's leadership and points out:
Germany has a lot of leverage in this process. Since Merkel took office, Germany has made strengthening ties with the U.S. a priority, and it has earned the trust of the current administration on the issue of Iran.  As a part of the EU-3 pressure against Iran nuclear proliferation and a strong opponent of the Iraq war, Germany has credibility as a firm negotiator on Iran without being tainted by too close an association with the United States. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it enjoys some of the closest economic ties with Iran, and support for punitive measures lets Iran know that economics won't trump security concerns.
Chancellor Merkel avoided to answer the question whether she wants the United States to talk directly with Iran on this issue. Foreign Minister Steinmeier and the chairman of the German parliament's foreign affairs committee called for direct U.S.-Iranian talks to overcome their bilateral problems.

President Bush mentioned the topics of his conversation with Chancellor Merkel:
Obviously, we spent a lot of time on Iran. After all, we're close allies in trying to make sure that the Iranians do not develop a nuclear weapon. We talked about the WTO round, the Doha round for the WTO, and I appreciated the Chancellor's willingness to work with not only the Europeans, but with a country like Brazil, and others, to see if we can't bring this round to a favorable conclusion. This evening I'm going to talk to the Chancellor about Sudan, and the progress that's being made in Iraq.
President Bush will attend the annual U.S.-EU Summit in Vienna, Austria, on June 21, 2006 and meet with Merkel in Germany as part of a trip to the G8 summit in Russia. Before returning to Germany, Chancellor Merkel will meet leaders of U.S. industry and finance in New York and speak at the 100th anniversary gala of the American Jewish Committee in Washington DC.

The US helps poor countries more than the amount of aid suggests

After the G8 debt relief agreement the German media often mentioned the relatively small amount of US development aid. The US currently spends 0.16 percent of its national income for aid, while Germany for example spends 0.28 percent. The Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Foreign Policy Magazine (FP), however, remind us that "helping poor countries is about more than giving money—it's about taking responsibility for policies that affect those less fortunate." The 2004 CGD/FP Commitment to Development Index "ranks 21 rich nations on how their aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology policies help poor countries."
The United States has a slightly better score than Germany! Denmark and the Netherlands earn the top spots. Sweden, Australia, the UK and Australia rank better than the US and Germany. Japan finishes last.

To alleviate extreme poverty the G8 have to make international trade more fair and increase aid

According to the Boston Globe:

Every month, more than 150,000 children die from malaria alone. Each year, AIDS kills 3 million worldwide, a number equal to 10 times the tsunami toll.

President Bush, Chancellor Schroeder and their G8 colleagues will meet in Edinburgh from July 6-8, 2005. The Make Poverty History campaign demands not only more debt relief than the G8 finance ministers have promised, but also more and better aid as well as trade justice. The Guardian describes how cultural advice from financial guru Warren Buffett helped Bono to enliste support for this campaign in the US.

A Foreign Policy article by President Bush's deputy assistant secretary of the treasury from 2000 to 2002, describes how US trade barriers hurt poor countries more than the US aid helps them, how aid played a key role in development in the past and why US security would benefit from alleviating poverty. Following are abstracts of both articles.

Continue reading "To alleviate extreme poverty the G8 have to make international trade more fair and increase aid"

Tell the G8 to make extreme poverty history

According to UNICEF, "around 29,000 under-fives die every day from causes that are easily prevented, such as diarrhoeal dehydration, acute respiratory infections, measles and malaria."

The international campaign "Make Poverty History" calls on the G8 to deliver a historic deal for the world's poorest people at their Africa Summit in Edinburgh from July 6-8, 2005. The G8 is a cornerstone of the transatlantic alliance since it consists of eight of the most powerful European and North American countries (as well as Japan). At their annual summits the Heads of Government of this small and mighty group discuss global economic issues and set an international agenda.

As host of this year's summit Tony Blair decided to put the focus on Africa:

In 2000, the international community set itself eight goals to achieve by 2015. The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) include targets on eradicating extreme poverty, combating HIV and AIDS and malaria, and ensuring that every child receives primary education. The UN Millennium Review Summit in 2005 will consider progress towards the MDGs. We already know that we need to do much more if we are to meet the MDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is one of the reasons why UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that Africa will be a priority of the G8 Summit in Gleneagles.

The Atlantic Review believes that the G8 leaders need to be pressured to intensify the war on poverty. The international "Make Poverty History" aka "white band" campaign explains how you can help and how this ambitious goal can be achieved and financed. Visit the German, US, or international homepage.

New York Times writes

According to a poll, most Americans believe that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent. As Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist in charge of the United Nations' Millennium Project, put it so well, the notion that there is a flood of American aid going to Africa "is one of our great national myths."

The United States currently gives just 0.16 percent of its national income to help poor countries, despite signing a United Nations declaration three years ago in which rich countries agreed to increase their aid to 0.7 percent by 2015. Since then, Britain, France and Germany have all announced plans for how to get to 0.7 percent; America has not. The piddling amount Mr. Bush announced yesterday is not even 0.007 percent. What is 0.7 percent of the American economy? About $80 billion. That is about the amount the Senate just approved for additional military spending, mostly in Iraq. It's not remotely close to the $140 billion corporate tax cut last year.