African leaders lay out demands for London Summit
Gordon Brown held talks with a group of African leaders on 16 March to hear about their countries' economic needs ahead of the London Summit on 2 April. Representatives of several states, including Liberia, Ethiopia and South Africa, attended the meeting in central London.
Watch Gordon Brown's roundtable with influential African leaders and Vox Pops from Youssef Boutros Ghali, Trevor Manuel and Mansur Muhtar
The Prime Minister said he wanted to ensure the needs of poorer countries were tackled as part of the summit of the leaders of the G20 group of emerging and developing economies.
It is now clear that the economic downturn could have severe consequences for the developing world. The Department for International Development (DfID) estimates 90 million more people could be forced into poverty by the end of next year.
Developing countries have been hit by a steep fall in demand, a drop in commodity prices, capital flight and the drying-up of the types of credit that keep the world economy functioning such as working capital, commercial paper and letters of credit.
The Road to the London Summit document produced by the UK Government shows that the loss of demand has affected the very poorest countries. For example India and China have each lost 10 million jobs while 14,000 jobs have gone in South African mining.
The Prime Minister said: 'It is our duty to do everything that we can first of all to relieve the pressure people are facing as a result of the downturn - and Africa knows more about these problems than any continent in the world - and secondly to prepare ourselves to get out of the downturn by taking the right decisions for the future.'
The Prime Minister said he was determined that every continent including Africa feels it can 'play a part in drawing up the plan for recovery'.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the critical issues African countries wanted addressed were additional funds and the ease of access to those funds. 'There are bound to be various means of funding and various means of disbursing those funds,' Meles told a news conference.
Interviewed after the meeting South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told Reuters he was worried that overseas development aid would 'dry up or diminish'. 'Some countries have indicated they are not capable of meeting these commitments,' he said.
Interviewed by this website in February, Lord Malloch Brown, Gordon Brown's Envoy for the London Summit, said poor countries were 'thinking very big'. 'This has clearly become a global economic crisis that affects households and families everywhere,' he said. 'They have big ambitions for this and they see the world at an economic crossroads. The economic affects are coming through in all sorts of ways and they are looking for big solutions.'
At the summit itself Africa will be represented by South Africa and by Mr Zenawi as chair of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Writing for this website, Peter Draper, Research Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said Africa's representatives at the 2 April Summit must focus on maintaining access to finance, keeping open markets and increasing resources for the multilateral development banks and the IMF.
He added that Africa should ensure the conclusion of a successful round of the so-called Doha round of global trade talks is a priority. 'Concluding the Doha round in whatever form is in Africa's interests, in order to constrain protectionism at least but more importantly to maintain the integrity of the multilateral trading system.
Writing in the Financial Times the day after the meeting, Manuel said: 'We need a shared commitment to resist protectionism and take the actions required to build more balanced trade relations and earnings patterns.'
Interviewed after the meeting, Mansur Muhtar, the Nigerian finance minister, said a trade deal was 'critical'. 'The risks this global crisis pose to many countries means there’s growing pressure to revert to protectionism,' he said. 'In this context we must do everything possible to ensure that we have agreements in place to help boost world trade.'
The Prime Minister said that the G20 should take action to reform international institutions, encourage global trade, counter protectionism and provide support to poor nations.
Impact of the crisis on African economies – Sustaining growth and poverty reduction report
What is the London Summit?On the 2 April 2009 world leaders will gather in London to address the global financial crisis.
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