Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 01:04 UK

Poor countries seek downturn aid

By Laura Trevelyan
UN correspondent, BBC News

A woman sleeps on a pavement in Phnom Penh - 30% of Cambodians are thought to live in poverty
Some 30% of Cambodians are thought to live in poverty

Developing countries have called for more money to help them out amid the global financial crisis, on the first day of a UN meeting.

Negotiators say they believe a tentative agreement on what the meeting will produce has been struck.

While the crisis began in America, the poorest countries are now being hit as their exports fall and migrant workers send less money back home.

Poor nations are seeking stimulus plans to revive their flagging economies.

Zimbabwean Vice-President Joice Mujuru told the BBC if the international community did not provide Zimbabwe with a financial stimulus plan, it would be failing in its duty.

"Now we are an inclusive government so there is no excuse for calling us this or that, and we are expecting them to support us, so that the inclusive government comes up successfully and is able to push on with the programmes that we have set for ourselves," she said.

'Missed opportunity'

Negotiations over what action this conference should call for have been fraught.

Many of the developed countries did want specifically to commit at this point to dollar amounts for a stimulus because they, of course, are also struggling with their own stimulus packages
Camillo Gonsalves
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ambassador to the UN

Western diplomats accused the Nicaraguan president of the UN General Assembly, Fr Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, of trying to put global capitalism on trial.

Now it seems a tentative agreement has been reached.

Draft proposals call for increased aid and debt relief for poor countries to be considered but there is no commitment to a developing world stimulus plan.

Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the chief negotiators, told the BBC why:

"Many of the developed countries did want specifically to commit at this point to dollar amounts for a stimulus because they, of course, are also struggling with their own stimulus packages and addressing the crisis nationally, from their own perspective."

"So what the document attempts to do is to set up a framework to carry this process forward."

Diplomats say the US is not happy with proposals which it fears could lead to developing countries being allowed to run up debts they will not be able to repay.

Immigrants working in the US are sending less money home, adding to the problem

Less well-off nations had wanted a clear commitment to a follow-up conference, to make sure any action agreed at this one was was actually taken.

Instead there is language on a working group.

A proposal for a UN global economic council to oversee the work of the World Bank and the IMF has been dropped.

Critics call this conference a missed opportunity but supporters say it is giving the developing world a voice in this financial crisis.



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