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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
G15 leaders attack globalisation
Group of nations
Members of G15 want their debts to be written off
Leaders of some of the world's developing nations, who are in Cairo for a two-day G15 summit, have strongly criticised the West for what they see as its unfair economic policies.

Delegates expressed their concern that today's global economy is exploitative, and said creditor nations should write off their debts.

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo told the conference that debt was a millstone around Africa's neck that needed to be removed.

Jamaica's Prime Minister, JP Paterson, said globalisation had favoured a few and marginalised the weakest.

Our societies are overwhelmed by globalisation and trade liberalisation

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
The organisers are hoping the two-day summit will make an impact on next month's G8 summit of industrialised nations in Japan.

The G15 group was set up in 1989 by developing countries from Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Among the G15's bigger members are India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

African debt

The problem of Africa's debt burden has so far dominated the talks.

African nations owe the industrialised world about $350 bn.

Their leaders say they must set up to 40% of their national budgets to service this debt, and that it's almost impossible for them to plan for the future.

"Our societies are overwhelmed by the strident consequences of globalisation and the phenomenon of trade liberalisation," Mr Obasanjo said.

He renewed his appeal for the West to help write off the debt.

It is the second time this year that Egypt is playing host to a summit where Western economic policies come under attack - in April, African leaders complained bitterly of their insupportable burden of debt.

Glimpse of hope

But the summit hasn't been all gloom and despondency.

Globalisation would lead to an improvement in the standard of living in developing countries

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak
India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said Asian nations were emerging from their recent financial crisis with prudent economic management.

The host to the conference, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, said that new technology offered a glimpse of hope for the developing economies.

He said technological advances were providing new opportunities, despite poverty, drought and the spread of deserts.

Mr Mubarak expressed the hope that G15 states would narrow the gap with the industrialised countries in technology, information technology and in the industry, training and services sector.

"We were convinced that globalisation would lead to an improvement in the standard of living in developing countries," Mr Mubarak said in his opening speech.

"But we have observed that the imbalance in the world economy is increasing instead of decreasing."

The media in Egypt have reported that the final summit communiqué will ask industrial nations to contribute at least 0.7% of their gross domestic product to the developing world.

But while some member states have been demanding the cancellation of their debts, others are taking a more considered approach.

On Sunday, Egypt's Foreign Minister, Amr Moussa, was quoted as saying that the influence of the G15 group will depend on it carrying out economic reforms.

No country, he said, wants to depend on aid.

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