Developing States Aim to Lift Millions out Poverty with New G11 Forum

Eleven developing economies clubbed together Wednesday to unveil a new forum aimed at easing their debt burden, narrowing the income gap with rich countries and lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Jordan's King Abdullah II unveiled the Group of 11 (G11) mostly lower-middle income countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and appealed to the world's most developed economies for their assistance.

"Today we launch a partnership that can deliver tremendous benefits for the people we serve -- and make a positive impact for all nations," the Jordanian monarch told assembled heads of state and representatives from the 11 countries.

The group aims to persuade developed countries and notably the Group of Eight (G8) -- the world's most industrialised powers plus Russia -- that given greater access to markets and debt forgiveness, they can harness growth and stability.

"Trade gives multiple advantages. Trade gives advantages of job creation and therefore poverty eradication and therefore I would say it strikes at the root of extremism and terrorism," Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in a speech.

Besides Jordan, which first proposed the new forum last year and will chair the group for its first year, the G11 brings together Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia, Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

Many of the group's members, despite impressive growth and foreign investment continue to be haunted by widespread poverty and unemployment, which they say are not eased by foreign tariffs and limited technology transfer.

The group called for enhanced market access especially in the agriculture sector, for developed countries in future to provide grants instead of loans -- to avoid further indebtedness -- and promised in return to continue with structural reforms.

Any savings made by not servicing debt could be used to strengthen the education and healthcare sectors, King Abdullah II said.

"We strongly believe that the road to sustained growth and stability is through following a path of prudent macro-economic management (and) economic liberalisation," while clamping down on corruption, the group said in a communique.

With the group as a whole witnessing increased foreign investment inflows, strong economic growth and falling poverty, the king said there was a consensus for the need for structural reform to help push growth and development.

"We have all taken steps to build accountability and transparency, reinforce the rule of law and give people, especially young people, a stake in a prospering peaceful future," he said.

"We need international support: targeted, results-oriented assistance that can help accelerate economic growth, deliver the benefits of reform and lock in development gains," the king added.

But he warned that poverty and unemployment together with external factors such as volatile energy prices and regional instability could stall any progress in lower-middle income countries -- home to more than a quarter of the world's people.

"Without continued oversight and effort, and continued international assistance, these challenges can reverse our positive trends to financial stability and growth," he said.

While much attention had been given to reducing poverty in Africa, it was vital that lower-middle income countries should not be overlooked, he added.

"We convene at a time when there is heightened global recognition that the developing world's inclusion and prosperity are key factors in global stability and security," Hussein II said.

"We need to leverage our strengths by working together and by speaking with one voice," he added.

Source: AFP

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