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Shell Out to Help Africa, Brown Tells Oil Giants

The Scotsman: Shell Out to Help Africa, Brown Tells Oil Giants

5 June 2005

By Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

Chancellor Gordon Brown appealed to oil-producing nations today to join international efforts to relieve the plight of Africa.

Mr Brown said the oil producers had done well out of the recent rise in world oil prices and urged them to use some of their wealth to help the poorest countries.

“I would like to see the oil producing states, the countries that have done well out of the rise in oil prices, being willing to make a contribution also to the new development agenda, and particularly to debt relief and to international aid, and perhaps by a contribution to the World Bank trust fund that would help relieve debts,” he told GMTV’s Sunday programme.

“I’ve been in touch with the countries concerned asking them to make their contribution too.”

The Chancellor acknowledged that the Government’s “Marshall Plan” for Africa was facing a “crucial week” as ministers sought to build support ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July.

Tony Blair is flying to Washington for talks with US president George Bush, while EU finance ministers meet on Tuesday followed by a meeting of the G7 (the G8 minus Russia) finance ministers in London at the end of the week.

“All the detail of what we can agree at Gleneagles will be being thrashed out over the next few days,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Blair and Brown want to see a doubling of international aid to Africa coupled with debt relief, an international finance facility to lever in funds through the capital markets, and the opening up of markets to African producers.

In return, they say that African governments must tackle the corruption which has blighted the continent so that donor nations can be sure that their assistance will not be wasted.

The Chancellor expressed confidence that their ambitious scheme would work.

“I think it will work because we will have the Americans on board,” he said.

“We’ve got discussions that are very detailed now on a debt relief package, we are also discussing how we can increase international aid, and there are discussions going on all the time now about how we can move the trade justice agenda forward.”

Nevertheless, significant differences remain with Washington over the level of aid giving, the best way to achieve debt relief and, particularly, the international finance facility.

Mr Brown indicated that Britain was prepared to push ahead with the international finance facility, even if the Americans would not join in.

“I would like America on board for that, but we will go ahead with the countries that are available and willing to do it,” he said.

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