Germans back Brown plan to tackle global poverty

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, hailed a breakthrough in the fight against poverty yesterday as Germany swung behind British proposals for an International Finance Facility (IFF) that would tap the capital markets to enable a substantial boost in international aid spending.

Speaking to participants at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, for the first time formally backed the proposals, bringing to four the number of G7, industrialised nations that have said they will support the initiative. The IFF has also been welcomed now by all other countries in the European Union, and by China, India and Brazil.

The IFF aims to borrow against existing aid budgets to yield an immediate step change in the size of development spending. Although the initiative has won high praise here in Davos as the most practical and predictable way of increasing international aid to Africa, it has yet to be backed by the US.

Here in Davos to promote the initiative, Mr Brown said the IFF could practically go ahead without American support as a "coalition of the committed", but he conceded that to have its full effect, the fund needed the backing of all donor nations, including the US.

Efforts would be made at all levels of government to persuade the Americans to come on board. However, in the meantime, committed nations would kick-off the initiative by applying it to a wide-ranging vaccination programme that Mr Brown claimed would save 5 million lives over the next 10 years.

Debt relief, fair trade initiatives, and the IFF will be top of the agenda for next week's meeting in London of the G7 finance ministers.

British proposals for tackling African poverty received a further boost at the World Economic Forum last night when Italy's finance minister, Domenico Siniscalco, said Italy would back demands for 100 per cent write-off of multilateral debt to the poorer nations advanced though the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Mr Siniscalco said he hoped the proposal could be formally adopted by the G7 in London, though again, the move is likely to be resisted by the US.

Mr Brown said he was happy to debate French proposals for an international tax to fund development. However, the advantage of the IFF was that it could produce an immediate and predictable uplift in aid. He said that at present rates of progress, the Millennium Goals for tackling poverty, illiteracy and disease in Africa would not be achieved until 2165, or 150 years after they were supposed to.

French and German support for the IFF is qualified by concern over how the borrowings taken on would eventually be repaid. Jacques Chirac, the French President, has proposed a series of international taxes as the most effective way of plugging the gap.

There was high praise for both Mr Brown and Tony Blair in Davos for their efforts to put African poverty at the top of the global agenda. Earlier in the week, the Irish rock star Bono had described Mr Blair as one of two alongside Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, who had done most in the fight against African poverty.

Yesterday he swapped his praise to Mr Brown, whose finance facility he described as the best and most effective way of delivering an increase in the aid budget.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen