Lula da Silva: Poverty and hardship compel us to form new alliances against social exclusion

From a speech by the Brazilian President at the G8 Summit in Evian, France
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The Independent Online

I come from a country that is animated by an extraordinary ethical and political energy directed both towards domestic problems and to forging more constructive international partnerships. The poverty and hardship that afflict millions in Brazil, in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia compel us to form new alliances against social exclusion.

We need to find a new formula that will lead to a return to growth and includes the developing countries. The incorporation of the developing countries into the world economy requires, of necessity, non-discriminatory access to the markets of the rich countries. We have made enormous efforts and sacrifices in order to achieve competitiveness. But how can we freely compete in this war waged with subsidies and other protectionist mechanisms that create a veritable exclusion from trade?

No theory, however sophisticated, can remain oblivious of poverty and exclusion. If we examine contemporary history, especially the periods following serious economic and social upheavals, we can see that development sprang from profound social reforms. These reforms introduced millions of men and women to the labour and consumer markets, giving them entry into citizenship and providing a new and prolonged economic impetus. This was so in the United States in the Thirties and in Europe after the Second World War.

I find it disturbing when I observe at the World Trade Organisation the reluctance to eliminate the exorbitant subsidies, particularly those given to agricultural products. Discussions on urgent issues, such as access to medicines, are postponed. Such attitudes are not constructive and lead only to scepticism as to the good intentions and wisdom of the more prosperous countries. Responsibilities need to be defined, and these also impose new tasks upon the developing countries. Countries in a better position to do so can, and must, adopt more helpful and generous policies towards the more impoverished countries.