PRESIDENT CLINTON: BUILDING A STRONGER GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT December 14, 2000
PRESIDENT CLINTON TODAY CALLED ON THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO WAGE AN ACCELERATED CAMPAIGN AGAINST GLOBAL POVERTY THAT LEAVES NEARLY HALF OF THE HUMAN RACE TO SUBSIST ON LESS THAN $2 A DAY. In a speech at Warwick University in England, President Clinton urged developed countries to take advantage of unprecedented prosperity to open their markets wider to products of poor countries and increase official and private sector assistance for social investments critical to poverty alleviation. At the same time, he underscored the importance for developing countries of pursuing economic growth through open markets, improved governance, and greater investment in their people. He called on all nations - from the richest to the poorest - to unlock resources and untapped reservoirs of national will and to work together more fully, more comprehensively than before.
TRADE AND TECHNOLOGY ARE INDISPENSABLE ENGINES OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR POOR COUNTRIES; HOWEVER, THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS SUFFICIENT TO REDUCE POVERTY. Lack of human capacity due to disease, malnutrition, and illiteracy make the opportunity created by trade and technology more theoretical than real for many. Sick and malnourished people have less access to education and perform less well in school, reducing their economic opportunity. Illiterate people are harder to reach through HIV/AIDS and other public health campaigns and are less equipped to follow prescribed medical treatments for diseases and other illnesses. And while information technology holds enormous promise for improving health care, education, and economic opportunity in poor, remote areas, it also has the potential to widen social disparities without efforts to ensure broad access.
PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL DISCUSS 4 KEY INITIATIVES AIMED AT ACCELERATING GLOBAL POVERTY REDUCTION. These initiatives are aimed at building a stronger global partnership encompassing governments, international organizations, and the private sector. For countries strengthening their own commitment to economic reform and social investment, these initiatives are designed to:
EXPANDING DEBT RELIEF FOR POOR COUNTRIES
The U.S. has been an international leader on debt relief for developing nations: In March 1999, President Clinton presented a plan to a U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington that became the basis for the G-7 agreement in Cologne, Germany (known as the Cologne Debt Initiative) to triple the amount of debt relief available for poor countries, reducing their debt by about 70% or $90 billion -- from an estimated $127 billion to as low as $37 billion in return for firm commitments to channel the benefits into improving the lives of all their people. Building on that agreement, last September, the President announced that the U.S. would unilaterally exceed the terms of the G-7 initiative and entirely cancel the $5.7 billion in U.S. government debt owed by qualifying countries. The Cologne Debt Initiative called for only 90% debt reduction for certain types of bilateral debt. In addition, the U.S. has supported efforts to expedite the process of qualifying countries for the expanded Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program.
International debt relief will help free up scarce resources for health and education in developing nations: For the average HIPC country, the share of scarce government revenue devoted to debt service (primarily interest payments) could fall by 25% to 50%. For example, Mozambique's debt is expected to be reduced by some $3.5 billion, which could cut in half the share of government revenues allocated to external debt service, and free about $96 million in budgetary resources each year. These savings are equivalent to twice the health budget in 1998 in a country where children are more than 3 times as likely to die before the age of five as they are to go to secondary school. In Uganda, enhanced debt reduction could allow health and education spending to increase by 50% from 1998 to 2001 and rural development expenditures to more than double.
Numerous countries are benefiting from debt relief: The countries that are already benefiting from debt relief are Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Guyana, Honduras, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Cameroon, Uganda, and Zambia. Another seven could qualify soon (Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Nicaragua, and Rwanda) and the United States is hopeful that several more countries can qualify in the future. Some of the remaining HIPCs have not made progress toward qualifying because of their engagement in conflict. Others have been slow to develop their poverty reduction strategies, which are necessary to ensure that the savings from debt relief go toward productive investments to reduce poverty, like basic education and health care. As many as 33 heavily indebted poor countries representing 430 million people could ultimately be affected: Honduras, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guyana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo, Zambia, Central African Republic, Burundi, Congo DR, and Sao Tome.
COMBATING INFECTIOUS DISEASES
The Clinton-Gore Administration has taken aggressive measures to meet global disease challenges, including the launching of the LIFE Initiative (Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic) to combat HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Vaccine Initiative to accelerate the development of badly needed vaccines.
The Clinton-Gore Administration also made global AIDS and infectious diseases a top priority at the G-8 Summit in Okinawa, where billions were mobilized from G-8 partners. The U.S. contribution to the worldwide effort totals more than $4 billion (including a proposed $1 billion vaccine tax credit), encompassing increased international assistance for HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and other infectious diseases; an accelerated effort to develop and distribute vaccines through the Millennium Vaccine Initiative; and expanded research on HIV/AIDS and other infectious killers. President Clinton called for G-8 support for innovative new partnerships with industry, academia, and international organizations to ensure that new vaccines are developed and existing ones are delivered where needed. In connection, World Bank President James Wolfensohn announced that the Bank will triple concessional lending in FY 2001 for AIDS, malaria, TB, and immunizations from $200 million to between $600 and $700 million.
HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases greatly exacerbate poverty in many poor countries. Zambia lost 1,300 teachers to AIDS in 1998, equivalent to two-thirds of all new teachers trained. In Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, half of all 15 year olds are projected to die of AIDS. The population of each of these countries will actually decline in the coming years. 44 million kids will be orphaned worldwide in the next decade as a result of AIDS. Tuberculosis accounts for more than 1.5 million deaths each year, while malaria kills more than one million, mostly children in Africa. Diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections are even more devastating, killing nearly 6 million annually in developing countries. At least 3 million children die needlessly each year for lack of existing vaccines.
EXPANDING LITERACY BY BROADENING ACCESS TO BASIC EDUCATION
President Clinton has strongly endorsed the international Education for
All goals adopted in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000 and spearheaded action
domestically and internationally to accelerate their realization.
Pursuant to his leadership, the G-8 in Okinawa strongly endorsed these
goals and called for increased bilateral, multilateral, and private
donor support for country action plans to attain them. At the World
Education Forum in Dakar, over 1,000 leaders from 145 countries resolved
to increase the world community's commitment to basic education in poor
-- Ensuring that no country with a strong national action plan to expand access to and improve the quality of basic education should be permitted to fail to implement its plan for lack of resources; -- Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality;
-- Achieving a 50% per cent improvement in level of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women;
-- Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005; and
-- Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education.
With the strong support of the U.S., World Bank President James Wolfensohn pledged that the Bank will increase education lending by 50% and devote the increase to basic education in support of the Dakar Framework -- a $1 billion increase or doubling of the Bank's lending for this purpose. This step could galvanize action on the part of the developing countries and other public and private donors to develop a deeper partnership in support of educating the world's youth.
The President has made the U.S. a leader in the global fight to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The International Labor Organization has estimated that 250 million children work worldwide. Under the leadership of President Clinton, the U.S. has become the largest contributor to the International Labor Organization's (ILO) International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC):
The President reiterated his commitment to stamp out abusive child labor in his last three State of the Union Addresses, and vowed to lead the international community in concluding an agreement to ban abusive child labor everywhere. The U.S. was among the first nations to ratify the International Labor Organization's Convention 182 for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. In signing the Convention, the President noted that tens of millions of children "are still forced to work in conditions that shock the conscience and haunt the soul. If we want to slam the door shut on abusive child labor," he stated, "we must open the door wide to education and opportunity."
The President also launched a $300 million school feeding pilot program working through the UN World Food Program and in partnership with private voluntary organizations. Building on ideas promoted by Ambassador George McGovern and former Senator Robert Dole and explored at the World Food Program (WFP), the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) would purchase surplus agricultural commodities and donate them for use in school feeding and pre-school nutrition programs in poor countries with strong action plans to expand access to and improve the quality of basic education.
Half of children in developing countries do not attend school and 880 million adults remain illiterate. An estimated 120 million children in developing countries do not attend any school at all, and an additional 150 million children drop out before completing the four years needed to develop sustainable literacy and numeracy skills. A 1995 UNICEF/UNESCO study found that about one-third of students lack classrooms with blackboards, desks, chairs, and access to safe water.
The United Nations World Food Program estimates that 300 million children in developing countries are chronically hungry. Many of these children are among the nearly 120 million who do not enroll in school. Others are enrolled in school but under-perform or drop out due in part to hunger or malnourishment.
CREATING DIGITAL OPPORTUNITY
Through the use of Information Technology (IT), developing countries have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into overseas markets, reduce poverty and improve basic education and health care. However, of the estimated 332 million people online as of March 2000, fewer than one percent (2.77 million) live in Africa. Less than five percent of the computers that are connected to the Internet are in developing countries. The developed world has 49.5 phone lines per 100 people, compared to 1.4 phones in low-income countries. The President has sought to turn the digital divide into digital opportunity for development by undertaking initiatives on a number of fronts:
Digital Opportunity Taskforce: At the Okinawa G-8 Summit in July 2000, President Clinton and the other G-8 leaders launched the Digital Opportunity Task Force, or dot force, to create digital opportunity in developing countries. The mission of the dot force will be to develop a strategy and set of recommendations for creating digital opportunity. The dot force will address issues in developing countries such as: creating a policy and regulatory framework that will promote competition and private sector investment in the telecommunications industry, and that will allow the Internet and e-commerce to flourish; expanding the IT workforce; strengthening the capacity of entrepreneurs to be engines of economic growth and job creation; and promoting applications of the Internet and information technologies such as e-learning, e-government, and e-health. The dot force is unique in that it is composed of representatives from developed and developing country governments, high-tech industry, civil society, and inter national organizations.
Global Call To Action: To mobilize public and private sector support and
demonstrate U.S. commitment to the dot force, the President issued a
"Global Call to Action" in Okinawa. Over 50 leading high-tech
companies, foundations, and non-governmental organizations heard the
call and committed themselves to taking concrete steps toward achieving
digital access and education for all by the year 2010. Among other
measures, the U.S. announced it would expand its Internet for Economic
Development Initiative (described below) to seven new countries and that
the Overseas Private Investment Corporation would establish a $200
million line of credit for e-commerce and digital divide projects in
developing countries. The U.S. Government's partners also agreed to
provide specific assistance or take specific actions. Among other
-- The Markle Foundation, World Economic Forum, IBM, Harvard University, the UN Development Program, and the UN Foundation announced they would create a network readiness initiative available to all developing countries;
-- Cisco Systems announced it would expand its Cisco Networking Academies to 24 of the least developed nations; -- Intel announced it would expand its "Teach to the Future" technology training program for teachers in at least 10 more countries; and -- AOL announced it would launch four international PowerUP sites in 2001.
Peace Corps E-Initiatives: Virtually every Peace Corps Volunteer sworn in today is adept at using computers and accessing the Internet. Increasing numbers of Volunteers are helping to make globalization "personal" and "local" by bringing the benefits of the information revolution into the hands of micro-entrepreneurs, students, health workers, farmers, artisans, teachers and others with whom they live and work. Volunteers are integrating information technology into field projects, and helping partners use e-mail and develop Web sites to participate more fully in national, sub-regional and global commerce.
Internet for Economic Development Initiative: Under the Internet for Economic Development (IED) program, which Vice President Gore announced in June 1999, the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Commerce Department, and other agencies are working with host governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector to implement specific projects that respond to participating countries' specific needs. Total fiscal year 1998-2000 funds dedicated to IED totaled approximately $34 million. Examples of specific projects include marketing textiles from a Mayan women's cooperative over the Internet, providing business management training in Egypt using distance learning, and providing technical assistance to telecom regulators from ten sub-Saharan African countries.