America's Africa Plan Chided

While talk of how to cope with economic reform and globalization dominated the three-day summit of the world's eight leading industrial nations, perhaps the most vigorous discussion among the leaders was on Africa.

A United States initiative to boost sub-Saharan Africa through trade and investment brought a critical response from European nations, especially France. "There's not much in it," the aide to the French president said, "no concrete action, no financing - a few words.... The only thing that is positive is that for once the US is taking care about Africa." France is a large aid donor in Africa - providing $2.3 billion in 1995 compared with $1 billion from the US.

On a range of issues from adding members to NATO to lack of progress on the Israel-Palestinian problem, the US found itself in polite debate with its European allies.

An economic statement does echo some American themes. It calls for France, Germany, and Italy to curb high unemployment through "structural reforms to reduce barriers to job creation ....." It also chides Japan to undertake deregulation and other market-opening reforms and warns against an attempt to export its way out of an economic slowdown. The US is mildly urged to remain vigilant against inflation and to stay on course to balance its budget.

The broadest agreement was on ways to increase cooperation among financial regulators and institutions to provide monitoring information so as to prevent a repeat of a Mexico-style financial crisis.

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