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G8 members, emerging nations in talks

Latest update : 2008-04-06

Development ministers from the Group of Eight richest nations as well as those of the fastest growing economies gather in Tokyo for two-day talks to discuss ways to bolster development aid in impoverished nations.

Development ministers from the richest nations as well as those of the fastest growing economies gathered here Saturday to discuss ways to ease suffering in Africa and other impoverished nations.
  
Officials from the Group of Eight industrialised nations, along with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa are to discuss over two days how to bolster their efforts in foreign development aid.
  
Angel Gurria, secretary general of Paris-based think-tank the OECD, said world powers must not allow the gloomy global economic outlook to distract them from fighting poverty because the global consequences would be dire.
  
"We cannot let the international and domestic economic concerns deter us from meeting our development commitments," he told reporters here.
  
"This is because poverty is the ultimate systemic risk. It is a breeding ground for the proliferation of terrorism, armed conflicts, environmental degradation, cross-border diseases and organised crime," he said.
  
The G8 Development Ministers' Meeting 2008 -- which aims to lay the groundwork for a summit of G8 leaders in Japan in July -- comes amid growing concern about rising food prices that are adding to the burden of some of the world's poorest citizens.
  
Experts say that more investment is needed in agriculture to try to address food shortages.
  
"The agriculture sector has been starved of infrastructure investment," Ifzal Ali, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank, said this week.
  
"There will have to be a combination of things: food assistance combined with immediate attempts to get supply responses because at the moment one of the problems we are facing is that food stocks are sharply down," he said.
  
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday that most donors need to step up efforts to meet their stated aid commitments.
  
"Overall, most donors are not on track to meet their stated commitments to scale up aid and will need to make unprecedented increases to meet the targets they have set for 2010," the OECD said in a statement.
  
British charity Oxfam said the figures showed that rich countries had broken promises made to substantially increase assistance to developing countries.
  
"These figures don't lie," said Jeremy Hobbs of Oxfam International.
  
"They show a clear lack of leadership on bringing much-needed funding to poor countries," he said, calling on Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States to take urgent action at the G8 summit in three months' time.
  
Japan, which has been officially pacifist since World War II, has long used aid as a key diplomatic tool.
  
It was the world's top aid donor until 2000, but slipped to rank fifth among the world's 22 major donors in 2007, according to the OECD.
  
G8 nations will this weekend also urge "more transparency of aid policies by new donors," a senior Japanese government official said.
  
Emerging nations will also be pressed "to act in a more responsible manner in terms of good governance, sustainability of aid and consideration for democratisation," the official said on condition of anonymity.
  
Some Western critics have accused China of worsening repression and human rights abuses in Africa through its aid while seeking to increase access to African oil and other resources, but Beijing says its aid is transparent and fair.

Date created : 2008-04-05

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