G77 ministers to tackle economy

Agence France Presse

Doha, June 13:

Foreign ministers of the Group of 77 (G77) plus China were to meet today ahead of a summit of the largest Third World coalition due to discuss UN reform and measures to strengthen their developing economies. The G77, which groups 132 countries in the alliance of developing

states at the UN, will discuss South-South partnerships, North-South relations and UN reform at the two-day long summit opening on Wednesday in the Qatari capital. The G77 is the largest Third World coalition and has tackling economic development since its founding in 1964. However, some members, such as Brazil, India and associate member China, have become rising economic forces on the world stage. “Our objective is to consolidate South-South cooperation in the economic, social and ecological sectors in order to achieve development,” said G77 executive secretary Murad Ahmia. Despite the slow pace of cooperation within G77 members, “there is an improvement in trade exchanges among developing countries,” he said, highlighting a preferential trade regime introduced by 50 group members.

“There are ideas to establish institutional mechanisms, including financial, in order to consolidate South-South cooperation and help the poorest nations,” he said. Ahmia said that at the last G77 summit in Havana in 2000 the gathering approved the creation of a “solidarity fund, which is currently functioning within the framework of the UN.” Participants said that G77 experts meetings in Doha since yesterday have discussed the possible creation of a banking institution for southern countries after a proposal by Arab Gulf monarchies. Ahmia gave a cautious welcome to the recent decision of the G8 leading industrialised countries to wipe out the debts of the planet’s 18 poorest states amounting to about $40 billion. “Any initiative which aims at cancelling the debts of developing countries is welcome,” he said, before adding that such debt relief measures should be made to all developing countries, without being ‘politically-motivated.’ At least 39 heads of state are expected to attend the summit out of the 118 countries likely to participate, organisers said. British prime minister Tony Blair may due to speak at the summit, ahead of hosting a G8 meeting in Scotland next month where Africa aid will be a prime issue, although his participation has not been confirmed.