The Third Press Conference, 8 July 2008
- G8 Working Session on Development and Africa
- Question concerning paragraph 46 (a) of the Declaration on Development and Africa
- Question concerning the affect of rising food and fuel prices on economic growth in Africa
- Question concerning the Northern Territories
- Question concerning discussion on Nigerian oilfields
- Question concerning "Peace and Security in Africa"
- Statement on Global Food Security
- Question concerning the building of a virtual internationally-coordinated reserve system for humanitarian purposes
- Question concerning paragraph 7 (a) of Statement on Global Food Security
- Question concerning the Republic of Zimbabwe
Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama: Good evening everybody. I understand you have been working so hard to catch up with all the documents released so far. I assume that you have already got the final document on the leaders' declaration on development and Africa. Please have a look at that while I give you a briefing on the gist of what leaders discussed in the afternoon session on this agenda item of Africa and development. The Meeting lasted from 15:00 to 17:00. The first one hour and a half was devoted to discussion of the issue of Africa and development.
The remaining half an hour was used to discuss, again, the issue of Zimbabwe. On this issue of Zimbabwe, I just mentioned that this evening, when the leaders will discuss political issues over dinner, they will come back to discuss the issue of Zimbabwe. So I will not go into details of what was really discussed this afternoon on Zimbabwe. Suffice to say that the leaders have now been working to issue a special Statement on Zimbabwe.
Coming back to the issue of development agenda, the main topics are as follows. Number one, the volume and the quality of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in general. They discussed the issue of the quantity of ODA and there was a consensus among the G8 leaders that they will renew their commitment made at the Gleneagles Summit, and also there was an agreement that the G8 may, if possible - if you have a look at paragraph 40, the first point is really related to this part: "We are firmly committed to working to fulfill our commitments on ODA made at Gleneagles, and reaffirmed at Heiligendamm, including increasing, compared to 2004, with other donors, ODA to Africa by 25 billion US dollars a year by 2010." Another point is just a few lines from there: "we acknowledge that ODA from G8 and other donors to Africa should be reassessed and may need to be increased for the period after 2010..." So this is another new commitment on the part of the G8 leaders.
Now, coming back to the afternoon discussion, then they went on to discuss the importance of supporting the MDGs, specifically there was a consensus, again, that the G8 should put focus on the issues of health, water and education. That is why, actually, you see this declaration starts with development, followed by health, water and sanitation, and then "Towards a Vibrant Africa" part.
Also there was a discussion on the need to make the Heiiligendamm Commitment much clearer and more concrete. In this regard I would like to draw your attention to paragraph 46, the lower part of (a): "We reiterate our commitment to continue efforts, to work towards the goals of providing at least a projected 60 billion US dollars over five years." So this over five years is a concrete timeframe given in this Summit Declaration, "to fight infectious diseases and strengthen health." And then: "Some countries will provide additional resources for health systems including water."
Then there was a discussion on food security. Again, there was a consensus among the G8 leaders on the urgency of the matter and the gravity of the matter.
Then Prime Minister Fukuda, as the G8 Chair, suggested discussing the following points. He took the lead as follows. Under the heading of "Health," he emphasized the point that it is very important to take a comprehensive approach in dealing with the health issue, meaning that the fight against infectious diseases, maternal health and child health, and strengthening of health systems should be tackled in a comprehensive manner. On this, I would like to also draw your attention to the fact that the G8 leaders welcomed the "Toyako Framework for Action." Indeed, it was referred to in this declaration in the bottom part of paragraph 45: "Building on the St Petersburg commitments to fight infectious diseases, the experts' report sets forth the 'Toyako Framework for Action,' which includes the principles for action, and actions to be taken on health, drawing on the expertise of international institutions."
Then on the fight against malaria, there was a specific new commitment incorporated in this statement, which is paragraph 46 (d): "As part of fulfilling our past commitment on malaria, we will continue to expand access to long-lasting insecticide treated nets, with a view to providing 100 million nets through bilateral and multilateral assistance, in partnership with other stakeholders by the end of 2010."
Then, on water, Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned the importance of the concept of cyclic water resources management, and to agree on the importance of its implementation. If you look at paragraph 47, there is a reference to the importance of good water cycle management.
Then, on education, I just want to mention that Prime Minister Fukuda drew the attention of other leaders to his view that the G8 should attach importance to the approach to support education, again, comprehensively, including technical education and vocational training, and also secondary and higher education. There is now a reference to that effect in paragraph 48: "we attach importance to life-long learning and a holistic approach to the education system, namely, continuing to prioritize universal completion of quality primary education by boys and girls, while responding to the need for striking a good balance between primary and post-primary education in relation with national constraints and economic needs."
I will introduce the points made by some of the leaders on the issues of agriculture and food security. One leader pointed out that the issue of speculative money should be investigated in relation to a report that speculative money might adversely affect the issue of rising food prices.
Then, on the issue of biofuels, there were no specific comments on that this afternoon.
On the issue of the need to lift export restraints on food, there was just a general reference to that, that such a measure would be important.
Then, finally, this really concerns somehow the issue of accountability. I would like to draw your attention to paragraph 40, the second sentence: "We renew our commitment to these goals by reinvigorating our efforts, and by strengthening our partnerships with, as well as encouraging the efforts of, the developing countries based on mutual accountability." Now this somehow established a concept that the donor community, the donor governments, are of course accountable to their taxpayers for explaining how their money is being spent to assist the recipient countries, including African states. On the other hand, we, the donor community, would also expect the African side to be accountable to us as to how our money has been spent. In this regard, some of the leaders raised the issue of the Chinese aid performance, aid activities in Africa. The point was made that Chinese aid activities in Africa are conducted without using international competitive bidding in procuring the contractors and workers. Normally, when the Chinese Government undertakes assistance activities they bring their own workers from China. So some of the leaders mentioned that China should try to comply with international standards in this regard, to introduce what we call international competitive bidding and some other aid practices. On the other hand, there was also a point made by some leader that the Chinese Government itself is getting aware of the problem: they have started to change their practices. On this Prime Minister Fukuda intervened, saying that Japan, on its part, raised this matter bilaterally, and in his view, China is indeed deepening their awareness of the need to change their practices, and that we should encourage China to do so.
In my briefing this morning I mentioned that some leader proposed to have a world energy forum; indeed, it was Prime Minister Fukuda. That idea is incorporated in paragraph 13 of the declaration, under the heading of "World Economy": "to enhance energy security we propose holding an energy forum to focus on energy efficiency and new technologies, which could also contribute to dialogue between producers and consumers." The point Prime Minister Fukuda made at the end of this afternoon session is simply - as you know, the British Government will be hosting the producer-consumer dialogue following up the recent Jeddah meeting. So Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned that Japan proposed the energy forum will be convened in close consultation with the other G8 countries. Indeed, Japan certainly will keep in touch with the UK Government, so that there will be no sort of hitch between the two meetings.
Q: On paragraph 46 (a), this new commitment to "fight infectious diseases and strengthen health," 60 billion US dollars over five years. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I understood that current spending on those areas amounts to 15 billion US dollars a year. So if you are spending 60 billion dollars over five years, that is 12 billion US dollars a year that is a net reduction of 3 billion US dollars a year. Can you clarify that?
Mr. Kodama: I don't have any sort of concrete figures at the moment, so I will come back to you later.
Q: Rising food and fuel prices has threatened to affect growth in African economies. Did the leaders discuss this, and suggest what would be their intervention?
Mr. Kodama: In the morning, when they discussed energy security, there were references on how to address these issues in the short-term, mid-term and long-term. In a similar manner, I am sure in the forthcoming Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security there will be also measures to be taken on an emergency basis, short-term, mid-term and long-term.
Q: When I last visited Hokkaido in October 1985, I deliberately took the train out to Nemuro, the most easterly point, to obtain a worm's eye view of the Northern Territories, and to get a sense of the place, of what was holding up the final peace treaty of World War II, the war I had lived through. Three years later, at the G8 Summit at Toronto in 1988, the provincial authorities offered journalists a flight up north to see the Great Lakes engineering works. Will you offer the journalists attending this Summit a helicopter or other flight near the Northern Territories and Okura Islands to obtain a better sense of what has delayed the peace treaty for 63 years?
Mr. Kodama: At this moment we have no such plan to organize such a trip for visitors at this Summit Meeting. That is the short answer. Of course, later this evening I will be happy to brief you on the outcome of the Summit Meeting between Prime Minister Fukuda and Russian President Medvedev, which has just finished, I think. So on that occasion I will explain our position on this issue of the Northern Territories, as well as the issue of concluding a peace treaty between the Russian Federation and Japan.
Q: Was there any discussion today of the Niger Delta situation in Nigeria?
Mr. Kodama: To the best of my knowledge, I don't think there was any such discussion on Nigeria's oilfields.
Q: Could you please elaborate a bit on the chapter about "Peace and Security in Africa," especially the support that will be provided for financing African peacekeeping capabilities and the African Union (AU) capability. Is this connected with the fact that some G8 countries are a bit disappointed because the AU is not taking a more active role in the Zimbabwe issue?
Mr. Kodama: Indeed, paragraph 54 deals with the issue of peace and security in Africa: "Peace and security in Africa is fundamental to its sustainable development. Therefore we will promote peace and security through supporting the African Union and Regional Economic Communities in enhancing Africa's peacekeeping capabilities in particular the African Peace Security Architecture (APSA), including the African Standby Force (ASF) ... through working with the African Union on assuring sustainable and flexible funding for African-led peace support operations; as well as through enabling seamless peacebuilding support, including to humanitarian, reconciliation, stabilization, recovery and reconstruction efforts and increased capacity of deployable civilian expertise. In this context, we look forward to the recommendations of the UN-AU High Level Panel that will consider solutions for enhanced support to the AU." Frankly speaking, I don't think this paragraph contains any sense of disappointment on the part of G8 leaders vis-à-vis the functions or the workings being done so far by the African Union. Really, G8 leaders are trying to convey their willingness to cooperate further with the African Union and African leaders. Here, our message is partnership. We emphasize the twin concepts of ownership and partnership. Certainly, we would always encourage the African side to take a lead, to stand on its own, and then the G8 or developed countries are willing to extend our support as an equal partner. Here, again, I want to emphasize the importance of mutual accountability. The word "accountability" is used in this declaration a couple of times. I think that is a good sign for both sides.
I have just been notified that another document - a separate standalone document on global food security - has just been issued. I had a very quick glance at this special Statement on Food Security. I think the operative part may be paragraph 7 - a reference is made to support CADIP, and I think reference is also made to biofuels in paragraph 7 (i). In paragraph 6, the fourth sentence: "It is also imperative to remove export restrictions and expedite the current negotiation at the WTO, aiming at introducing stricter disciplines on these trade actions that prolong and aggravate the situation and hinder humanitarian purchases of food commodities." So these are two very explicit recommendations made by our G8 leaders in addressing this issue of the food crisis.
Also, the final sentence of paragraph 6 - interesting reference: "We will explore options on a coordinated approach on stock management including the pros and cons of building a virtual internationally-coordinated reserve system for humanitarian purposes."
VIII. Question concerning the building of a virtual internationally-coordinated reserve system for humanitarian purposes
Q: On this point that you mentioned just now - the G8 will explore options on a coordinated approach. Does this point to the eventual setting up of a new institution to deal with the whole issue?
Mr. Kodama: I should not of course preclude any option - actually here, it says, "explore options." But the word "virtual" is interesting, meaning using Internet technologies, information technology - this would imply that there would not be any sort of permanent institution to manage this kind of operation. Indeed, I am told that the World Bank is interested in being a part of this idea. So in any case, I think, deliberations will start based on this sort of recommendation.
Q: Well, the World Bank, the FAO, the World Food Programme, and IFED - these are the natural partners.
I need a clarification - paragraph 7 (a): I am not aware of this Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. Is this an ongoing programme?
Mr. Kodama: Yes. This is a New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD)-led programme. This is an African-initiated programme.
Q: You mentioned that the leaders spoke for half an hour on Zimbabwe. Can you please speak to what they might have said about the situation in Zimbabwe?
Mr. Kodama: I will be very short. Yesterday I did give my briefing on the Outreach Meeting between G8 leaders and African leaders in which they also discussed the issue of Zimbabwe. What I learned from my colleagues who monitored this afternoon's session is that more or less the same points were made by G8 leaders. But in any case, I could share with you just a few points. G8 leaders would not accept the legitimacy of the current Mugabe government. While good governance is making steady progress in Africa at large, the issue of Zimbabwe is a minus to the reputation of the African continent or what Africa is now heading to. Also some leaders mentioned that we should take sanctions against Zimbabwe, and also they recalled that yesterday African leaders reported to the G8 leaders that AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have been doing their utmost to improve the situation in Zimbabwe. SADC, we know, is trying to take a mediation role to somehow help Zimbabwe to form a unity government. In any case, please wait for a while. At the end of the Working Dinner this evening the G8 leaders will definitely issue a special Statement on Zimbabwe.
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