The PMOS gave the Government’s reaction to President Bush’s announcement today that the US would more than double aid to Africa by 2010. He said it was an important and welcome step and created a real momentum for a successful outcome at Gleneagles. It built on the President’s increases in US ODA in his first term, his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Millennium Challenge Account. We welcomed the President’s focus both on governance and democracy, as well as on the key issues of girls education and malaria. This reflected the comprehensive programme which the Prime Minister had proposed to the G8. We wanted the G8 to sign up to providing universal access to malaria prevention and treatment and to train millions of new teachers for Africa. The President’s announcements today were a big contribution to those important aims.
This, combined with commitments from the EU, Japan and Canada, meant that the G8 and the EU would more than double aid to Africa by 2010, increasing it by $25bn, as called for by the Commission for Africa. This also put us within real reach of our goal of an extra $50 billion a year in total for aid for all developing countries.
He went on to describe how additional aid for Africa was made up:
Asked if we did not already know that the American’s would double aid, the PMOS said no we did not. When the Prime Minister was in Washington, President Bush had said in the White House that he would try to do more. This administration had already trebled aid to Africa. We were now talking about a further doubling of the total aid from the US to Africa. Asked about the President’s strict views on corruption tied to this new money, the PMOS said that we shared his view on governance and more importantly the African Union had also bought into that view on governance. The important thing was that this was a partnership going forward. It was as the Prime Minister said in Washington, not something for nothing. We hoped we would have more to say on that in Gleneagles. Asked if there had been any conversation between the Prime Minister and President Bush before the announcement or if it had been a surprise, the PMOS said that we were in constant contact with our colleagues in the US, as were with all our G8 partners. You could take from that that this had not come as a surprise. That did not take away from the fact that it was a welcome move and obviously we were delighted that we had reached the $25billion increase as called for by the Commission for Africa. We still had a lot of work to do however between now and next week. That work would continue, both on Africa and on Climate change.
Put to him that the Brookings Institute had found that the US increase in aid to Africa was in a real terms only a 57% rise and asked if this was the case with this rise as well, the PMOS said that he would not get caught between the Brookings Institute and the US President. If the US President said that they had trebled aid, and we believed the figures were right, then that was where we were. In terms of the increase, as they had stated, aid had been increased from $4.3billion in 2004 to $8.8 billion in 2010. What was important was that we had reached the figure which had been set out by the Commission for Africa as necessary.
Asked whether we were disappointed that the US President hadn’t made any similar pledges with respect to climate change, the PMOS said that this had always been billed as a speech about Africa. We were still a week away from Gleneagles. We had never said that what we were trying to do was get the US to sign up to the Kyoto protocols, because in fact that had been rejected in the previous administration and by Congress, not this President. However even if we did come at the issue from different perspectives, us from primarily from the climate change perspective and them from the need for alternative energy supplies and energy security, the important thing was that there was a confluence of interest in developing the alternative energy supplies and the alternative technology which would result in cuts in emissions and also a greater diversity of energy. That was very important particularly if it engaged, as we believed it would, the 5 emerging economies, who would be attending Gleneagles.
Asked if the President had stolen some of the Prime Minister’s thunder by announcing this now, the PMOS said you could say the same about Canada, Japan and the EU, who had all made announcements recently? They had all announced it now in order to show that they recognised that Africa was an issue which deserved significant attention and that they were giving it that significant attention. Just as we welcomed the EU increases in aid, just as we had welcomed the Canadian and Japanese, so we welcomed the US.
Asked about the participation of the emerging economies, the PMOS said that the important thing was that the emerging economies were not just coming to Gleneagles to witness the G8 talking about the issue of energy and climate change. They were coming to participate in a discussion aimed at getting a consensus not just on where we were, but more importantly on what we collectively needed to do to move forward. That would involve getting a consensus on how we developed alternative energy supplies and so on. The fact of the matter was that India and China were growing at a tremendous rate, ipso facto their demand for energy would grow at a tremendous rate if we did not respond urgently then that would cause problems in terms of climate change but also in terms of energy supply. Therefore we had to engage with these emerging economies and get an alternative way forward which would come out of Gleneagles but didn’t just stop at Gleneagles but continue afterwards as well.
Asked if given our focus on good governance we would have anything to say to the Chinese on the matter, the PMOS said that our position on human rights in China was well known. We had never ducked the opportunity to express that view.
Asked if he could summarize what the Prime Minister was looking to achieve on Africa at Gleneagles, the PMOS said that there was progress being made. There was real momentum both on Africa and climate change, but the negotiations were still going on. We were not there yet. There was still further work to do.
Asked about the strings attached to US aid, the PMOS said that the US administration would brief on its own aid budget. However he reminded journalists that in Washington it had been the Prime Minister who had said that aid should be connected to good governance and to taking measures against corruption. That was not just a US concern, that was a UK and worldwide concern. As the Prime Minister had said, it was not something for nothing. It was something for something. Asked what that something was, the PMOS said that we needed to be assured that the money which was given was spent effectively. That was why we recognised the US desire to spend that money on specific projects such as malaria and girls education, where there was a real need and real projects to meet that need.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
Original PMOS briefings are © Crown Copyright. Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland. Click-use licence number C02W0004089. Material is reproduced from the original 10 Downing Street source, but may not be the most up-to-date version of the briefings, which might be revised at the original source. Users should check with the original source in case of revisions. Comments are © Copyright contributors. Everything else is © Copyright Downing Street Says.
Contact Sam Smith.