Leveraging Transatlantic Understanding for Positive Change in the Developing World
In the context of G8 Africa dialogue, I believe it is imperative that leaders attending this year’s Summit act on The Transatlantic Taskforce on Development’s recommendations where a solid basis of transatlantic understanding can be leveraged for positive change in the developing world.
Civilian non-military sector expertise and risk-taking can be vital to restoring economic growth in post-conflict situations. Greater use of mechanisms such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to track the revenues from oil and gas are needed. The private sector can help provide technical solutions to such thorny issues as clean energy and efficient use of water for household, industry and especially agriculture.
A stronger focus is needed on building human and technical capacity in the private sector. The Taskforce recommendations emphasise the need for generating private sector opportunities and economic growth. Increased investment in infrastructure, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa is vital, but should not come at the expense of social programs. Jobs cannot be created without a healthy and educated workforce. Large, multi-national companies can provide financial assistance, training and mentoring, while international institutions and national governments work to create the macroeconomic (including regulatory) conditions and stability that are preconditions for effective investment.
To protect the poor in a time of economic crisis, governments, the private sector, and civil society must work together to expand food production, restore trust in markets, and promote food security. Governments must create the economic environment for the private sector to supply safe and nutritious food. The private sector is the engine for production of consumer products and services, the maintenance of food safety standards, and support for an effective supply chain. The private sector can play a role in affecting policy reforms and investments in infrastructure, agriculture, renewable energy, and R&D. Governments must take steps to eliminate or at least minimise existing subsidies and mandates for biofuels.
Multilateral agreements to liberalise international trade are the most effective way to promote food security for both food importers and exporters. Even if the Doha Round cannot be completed to achieve its goal of greater market access, it must establish agreed global rules to provide a bulwark against the escalation of protectionist measures in the current global financial crisis. Developed countries should deliver on their oft-stated commitment to ensure 100 percent duty-free, quota-free (DFQF) treatment for imports from all 49 Least Developed Countries and extend DFQF to other countries where appropriate.
As a former member of our national legislature and an individual committed to lifting millions from poverty, I hope to continue to engage with leaders from government and civil society in Europe and the developing world to exchange views on these issues that are—literally—a matter of life and death. Only by working together will we be successful in realizing these goals that are so important for peace and prosperity—rather than working alone, or worse, in separate and often opposite directions.