Bush Advocates for Reduced African Aid Targets While Blair Continues To Push for Increased Commitments at G8 Summit
President Bush on Wednesday at a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Gleneagles, Scotland, began advocating for reduced aid targets to fight poverty and disease in Africa, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he will continue to campaign for increased commitments from wealthy nations, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Blair, who is hosting the meeting, has been advocating for an immediate doubling of aid to Africa to $25 billion annually, with the goal of reaching $50 billion annually by 2010. He also is proposing that all G8 countries increase foreign aid commitments to 0.7% of their gross national incomes by 2015. Although Bush announced last week that he will seek to double U.S. aid to Africa from the $4.3 billion committed in 2004 to $8.6 billion by 2010, he opposes the 0.7% GNI target. According to anti-poverty advocates, Bush's goal of $8.6 billion by 2010 falls about $6 billion short of what is needed from the United States to meet Blair's $50 billion target for 2010. Therefore, the final G8 agreement on aid targets is expected to remove any references to the $50 billion aid target and instead focus on a general doubling of commitments from wealthy nations. Blair said that the final agreement was still being discussed (Crutsinger, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/6).
Sources familiar with the G8 negotiations said that "one particularly tough" discussion occurred over access to HIV/AIDS treatment, London's Guardian reports (Elliott/Wintour/MacAskill, Guardian, 7/6). G8 finance ministers last month agreed to increase efforts to provide universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, as well as encourage research into vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (HM Treasury release, June 2005). Although some countries have been "balking" at the treatment agreement, the United States likely will no longer attempt to remove the pledge from the final summit communique and will support a treatment action plan, according to the Guardian (Guardian, 7/6). "This week, the G8 leaders should clearly articulate a goal of universal treatment by 2010," Global AIDS Alliance Executive Director Paul Zeitz said, adding, "They should also commit to developing a plan to actually achieve this goal in a cost-effective and collaborative manner. Increasing access to AIDS treatment means confronting difficult challenges, and progress can be slow at first. But our experience so far has been that once basic systems are in place progress can speed up dramatically" (GAA release, 7/5). The World Health Organization recently announced that about one million HIV-positive people in developing countries are receiving antiretroviral drugs. Although WHO likely will not meet its 3 by 5 Initiative goal of delivering antiretrovirals to three million people by the end of this year, the agency said that the program has helped to double the number of HIV-positive people in developing countries who are receiving antiretrovirals over the past 18 months (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/30).
Bush, Blair Comments
During a press conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen held before the summit, Bush said that African countries will have to fight corruption and establish good governance before they can receive more aid from the United States (Hundley/Silva, Chicago Tribune, 7/7). "We've said that we'll give aid, absolutely; we'll cancel debt, you bet; but we want to make sure that the governments invest in their people," Bush said, adding, "We expect there to be good governance on the continent of Africa. I don't know how we can look our taxpayers in the eye and say it's a good deal to give money to countries that are corrupt" (Wienberg, AP/News24.com, 7/6). Fogh Rasmussen praised Bush's plans to double aid to Africa by 2010 but added that Denmark contributes a larger percentage of its GNI than the United States and other wealthy nations (VandeHei, Washington Post, 7/7). "In fact, if all G8 countries matched our effort, Africa would get $90 billion a year, instead of only $25 billion," Fogh Rasmussen said (Stevenson/Cowell, New York Times, 7/7). Blair during a press briefing on Wednesday said he is "prepared to hold out for what is right" and is not expecting to scale back his aid target proposals (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/6). He added, "We are in a position where I hope very much we can meet the reasonable expectations of many millions of people" worldwide (Associated Press, 7/7).
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan during a speech to anti-poverty advocates in London said that G8 leaders need to do more than just increase aid to Africa to curb poverty on the continent. He called on rich nations to eliminate agricultural subsidies for their farmers to provide access to the market for African goods, a move that would help developing nations meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for poverty and hunger. "The very poorest are getting poorer in sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, Africa is falling seriously short on most of the goals, with continuing food insecurity, disturbingly high child and maternal mortality, growing numbers of people living in slums and an overall rise in extreme poverty," Annan said (Agence France-Presse, 7/6). Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Wednesday that it is crucial to curb HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa to meet MDG health targets, adding, "We are very hopeful about the decisions that will be made regarding trade access and increased aid to Africa" (Associated Press, 7/7). At a press briefing on Wednesday, musicians Bono and Bob Geldof, actor George Clooney, and several African heads of state, writers and artists urged G8 leaders to increase efforts to prevent the 30,000 to 50,000 deaths that result from poverty and treatable diseases every day in Africa (Sennott, Boston Globe, 7/7).