At the Opening of the G-11 Summit
New York, US
20 September 2006
Today we launch a partnership that can deliver tremendous benefits for the people we serve and make a positive impact for all nations.
More than a quarter of the world's people live in the countries that compose the lower-middle income group. We occupy a key position in the global economy. We have led the developing world in driving the reforms needed to create economic growth and opportunity. Our group is poised to move ahead and stabilise at higher income levels. And that success will have vital benefits, not only for our own citizens, but for our regions and the global economy as a whole.
Now we need to take the next step - to move across the income threshold. And for this, we need international support: targeted, results-oriented assistance that can help accelerate economic growth, deliver the benefits of reform, and lock in development gains.
Recent economic markers for our group as a whole show the potential of our countries. GDP growth has been robust. Participation in global trade is rising. Net FDI inflows are up. Poverty is being reduced. For many countries, debt service as a percentage of exports has dropped, helping to reduce debt burdens. And more of our people have access to the technologies and skills that are the gateway to prosperity.
There is broad consensus among our countries about aggressive structural reform as a driver of growth and development. And 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.
Yet, serious challenges remain. Poverty and unemployment, external shocks, such as energy prices, or regional instability, debt burdens that drain national budgets of funds needed for infrastructure and development. Without continued oversight and effort - and continued international assistance - these challenges can reverse our positive trends to financial stability and growth. To avoid such reversals, we need to leverage our strengths by working together and by speaking with one voice on international concerns, especially fair trade, increased direct assistance, and indeed debt relief.
Today, developed nations and international institutions clearly recognise their responsibility to address global poverty and economic imbalances. There has been a very strong focus on helping extremely poor countries, especially in Africa. We applaud that commitment. But we need to make it clear that assistance is also vital for lower-middle income countries - countries that are in a position to create sustained advances through economic management and reform.
Our group can and should work together to prepare a common platform in key areas of concern. These could include, for example, initiatives to: make foreign aid responsive to local needs in order to make the most of scarce resources; lobby for shifting from loans to grants to keep countries from re-accumulating debt; lobby wealthy countries to open their markets to developing country production, especially in the agricultural sector; seek out partnerships with developed countries, to spur private-sector-led growth and foreign investment flow; develop educational curricula to match labour market requirements; and channel savings from debt relief into strengthening education and public health sectors.
This summit is uniquely designed to form the nucleus of such an effort. Last September, with your input and participation, we began forging our partnership. There were successful follow-up meetings in Jordan, both in November 2005 and July 2006. And today's meeting, I'm happy to say, brings together the highest levels of leadership. There has never been a better opportunity to identify common interests and outlooks, and present a shared vision for the future.
Together, I hope, we will have a rewarding discussion - and make progress toward a unified approach to the international community, particularly the G8.
My friends, let me thank you for your participation and commitment.