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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 05:36 GMT 06:36 UK
G8 'harming Africa', charity says
A woman harvests maize in Harare, Zimbabwe
ActionAid is calling on the G8 nations to support fair trade
The G8 group of industrialised nations has harmed Africa, a charity has said.

ActionAid, part of the Make Poverty History coalition, said the G8 had pushed poor countries into pursuing policies not in their interests.

The criticism comes as the charity launches its manifesto for change, Don't Make Poverty, ahead of the G8 summit in Scotland beginning on 6 July.

ActionAid is calling for subsidies to farmers in G8 countries to end, a cancellation of debt, and more aid.

"The G8 have made grand statements on Africa for 10 years now," said Steve Tibbett, head of policy at ActionAid UK.

It is time for the G8 to show some remorse and take positive action
Steve Tibbett,
ActionAid UK

"In that time, they have continued to frogmarch African countries into policies that have harmed them.

"They have cancelled only a fraction of poor countries' debts and have given less and lower quality aid.

"It is time for the G8 to show some remorse and take positive action."

ActionAid urged the G8 to build on the successes in Africa, particularly its economic growth and the increasing strength of the African Union.

The charity is also calling on the nations to support fair trade and tackle Aids and climate change.

Christian Aid study

The call came as Christian Aid published The Economics of Failure: The Real Cost of 'Free' Trade, a study which said free trade had left Africa 149bn poorer over the past 20 years.

The report goes against the theory behind debt relief by arguing that struggling countries in sub-Saharan Africa have lost billions of pounds worth of revenue by opening their economic markets up to foreign imports in return for aid donations.

"Whole countries would be much richer today if they had not been forced to open their markets," said Dr Claire Melamed, from Christian Aid.

"In the past 20 years, trade liberalisation has cost Africa the same amount as it received in aid," she added.

The Christian Aid reports has urged that any money given to the poorest countries should not involve trade.

"If new aid and debt relief comes with strings attached that require countries to liberalise trade, it may well do more harm than good," said Dr Melamed.

Emma Thompson on her support for ActionAid

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