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Italian Presidency Document (Beyond Debt Relief)

Introduction

The enhanced HIPC Initiative launched in Cologne in 1996 aimed at making a substantial contribution to the fight against poverty. Further steps are needed to enable those countries that have benefited from debt relief to consolidate their gains and to provide other very poor countries that do not have a debt problem a much-deserved opportunity for accelerating their development and closing the gap with the more advanced economies.

Moving forward, the international community needs to implement an effective strategy for stimulating faster growth and poverty eradication in the poorest countries that builds on three, mutually reinforcing, pillars.

First, urgent action is needed to open industrial countries' markets to the exports of poor countries. These countries face substantial trade barriers particularly in agriculture and low technology manufactures where their competitive advantages lie. Liberalizing market access for their exports is the only way to allow poor countries to exploit the benefits of specialization and contribute to faster world economic growth. Furthermore, to secure the effectiveness of the market opening process, non-tariff barriers to trade ought to be minimised, and trade-related technical assistance to LDCs strengthened.

A second important field of intervention is investment. Action needs to be taken to facilitate FDI flows and technology transfers into LDCs. The international community should support LDCs' efforts to create a favourable environment and expand market access for foreign investment, by enhancing technical assistance for capacity building and directing financial leverage towards development programs aimed at improving human capital and infrastructures in these countries.

Third, we need to increase the mobilization and efficiency of resources channeled into the development of the social sector in the poorest countries to enable them to reduce the gap with more prosperous nations. Priority should be given to investment in health and education, where the role played by the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Institutions should be strengthened. In these two areas, we promote the creation of dedicated Trust Funds through a donation by the industrial countries to be matched by expected contributions from the private sector. This will build up a resource base for building capacity in the poorest countries and promote public-private partnerships for development programs aimed at expanding access to basic health and education services and enhancing human capital in the poorest countries.

The paper is organised in three sections. Section A illustrates the motives for and the main effects of the proposal for liberalization of market access for products originating in the poorest countries and discusses measures to reduce non-tariff barriers and enhance trade-related technical assistance for these countries. Section B analyses the role of foreign direct investment in promoting development and technological advancement and proposes measures for attracting and expanding the benefit of FDI in the poorest countries. Section C addresses issues related to the adequacy and effectiveness of aid resources for core social investment in the poorest countries. It deals first with the health sector where a number of proposals are illustrated to increase the extent and quality of financial support available to the poorest countries for improving preventive and curative treatment of diseases and expanding access to health services. Finally, it discusses the key role of investment in education and enlists proposals for enhanced support to poor countries' strategies for strengthening education during schooling age and afterwards. The main proposals and lines of action suggested are summarized in a table at the end of the paper.

 


Source: Italy, Ministero degli Affari Esteri (all accessible at http://www.esteri.it/g8/docum.htm)

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