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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
G8 extols globalisation
Police arrest anti-globalisation demonstrators
Anti-globalisation demonstrators are led away

By the BBC's Andrew Walker in Genoa

A summit held against a backdrop of anti-globalisation protests ended with a communique extolling its potential benefits.

"We are determined to make globalisation work for all our citizens, especially the world's poor ... drawing the poorest countries into the global economy is the surest way to address their fundamental aspirations," said G8 in its final communique.

But they know they have a long way to go, and they have had extensive talks about how to ensure the poor countries do get any benefits that globalisation has to offer them.

What the summit did not offer was more debt relief, a great disappointment, though not a much of a surprise to debt campaigners.

The burden of debt

Most of them welcome the progress that has been made since the G8 summit in Cologne two years ago agreed more generous debt relief terms.

For twenty three countries, debt servicing payments have been reduced by over a quarter according to figures from the British campaign group, Drop the Debt.

But they still say it has been too slow, it's not generous enough and doesn't cover enough countries.

The G8 want to press on with the implementation of the earlier Cologne agreement and they put much of the onus on the remaining countries - there are eighteen more potential beneficiaries - to do what is needed to qualify.

The G8 urged those embroiled in conflict to stop fighting. The countries themselves will also need to work with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to devise strategies for reducing poverty in order to qualify for debt relief.

Maintaining growth

The communique also puts a heavy emphasis on what to do after debt relief. Promoting the private sector and international trade are important. There is also a lot about improving health and education services, programmes which can be very effective in helping in the poor.

Education in the developing world is being treated as a priority by Canada, which hosts the next G8 in a year's time.

But the G8 also said the most effective poverty reduction strategy is maintaining a strong, dynamic, open and growing global economy.

It was G7 - without Russia - which addressed that issue before the full summit.

In a statement clearly designed in calm anxieties about the global economy, they were positive about the prospects for renewed growth after a slowdown that has affected all the seven.

The notable exception was Japan, whose sluggish performance has been a worry for the whole group for a decade.

They expressed their support for the economic reforms planned by the Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Support was also expressed for recent measures taken by two developing countries, Turkey and Argentina, at various stages of international financial crises.

Support for trade round

But do these summits add up to a convincing programme to prevent the global economic slowdown becoming something much worse?

Not really, although optimistic words certainly don't do any harm.

Many of the key actions are down to central banks, who aren't represented here. Nor are the emerging market countries - from which financial contagion might conceivably spread - present.

The G7 were also keen to see a new round of trade liberalisation talks launched when the World Trade Organisation holds a ministerial conference in Doha in Qatar in November.

Launching a new trade round is what the WTO failed to do when it met in Seattle in 1999.

But whatever the G7 agree, they must still persuade the developing countries that a new round is worthwhile.

Negotiations at Seattle failed because of their objections to what they thought was a rich country negotiating agenda being foisted on them against their wishes.

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See also:

22 Jul 01 | Europe
Genoa counts the cost
22 Jul 01 | Business
G8 silence on recession fears
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Summits must continue - Blair
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Genoa police raid
21 Jul 01 | Europe
Protest death divides Genoese
21 Jul 01 | Media reports
Newspapers lament Genoa violence
20 Jul 01 | Business
Economic vigilance needed warns G8
20 Jul 01 | Business
G8 leaders focus on world poverty
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Dismay at Genoa's troubles
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