JIS News

Prime Minister Patterson has called the proposed G8 initiative to write off debt to the poorest African nations as “a step in the right direction”. He said that the initiative was necessary and long overdue. He was speaking at a press briefing in Castries St. Lucia yesterday (July 3, 2005) where he is attending the 26th Heads of Government meeting of Caricom.
He said that the problems of Africa were longstanding and included stagnated economies and acute health challenges.
Prime Minister Patterson noted that Caribbean countries which are small vulnerable developing economies should ensure that the international community does not ignore their plight. These economies, he said, are “caught in the cross-currents of erosion of trade preferences and trade liberalization within the multilateral trading system”. He said that the former reduces export earnings and the latter reduces fiscal revenues and exposes domestic producers to more international competition.
Mr. Patterson said that this “twin adjustment process” is compounded by stagnant development assistance levels as resources are shifted to other economies. He said that small developing economies will continue to need special and differential treatment (SDT), which facilitates export diversification and structural transformation towards sustainable growth and development.
In making his call for more SDT, Prime Minister Patterson said that aid is not a substitute for but rather a complement for SDT. He said that aid must allow beneficiary countries to improve their international competitiveness sufficiently to maintain their existing markets and seize new opportunities.
Pointing to the practice of national economies to protect vulnerable producers through special provisions, he argued that the principle must apply in the global economy. “Those who are vulnerable by virtue of size or poverty must be accommodated by the international community, especially since their share of world trade is so small that special and differential treatment could not constitute a distortion to world trade or a hindrance to trade liberalization.
Mr. Patterson also provided the press with details of his letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair which contained seven main issues that came out of the Second South Summit of the G77 and China over which he presided in Doha, Qatar, June 13-16, 2005.

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