"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Conclusions of the Joint Meeting of G8 Foreign and Finance Ministers, Birmingham Summit

[Place] London
[Date] May 9, 1998
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Notes] http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/economy/summit/1998/g8min_metng.html
[Full text]


2. We discussed practical steps to implement a genuine partnership with developing countries as set out at the Lyon and Denver Summits and in the OECD's 21st Century Strategy adopted in 1996, and building on the landmark UN Summits of the past decade and our work bilaterally and with the multilateral development institutions, to achieve measurable short and long term results on development goals. We are grateful to our officials for reporting on the follow up to Denver. We welcome the progress made.

3. The goal of this partnership must be to stimulate growth in a way that contributes to sustainable development and reduction of poverty. It requires action by all partners, by governments and civil society, and by the private sector. We recognised the importance of action to integrate economies better into the global economy, and the critical role of flows of private capital and trade flows and the policy reforms required in those countries to attract them. We also recognised the importance of official support for developing countries which are seeking to tackle deep-seated social and economic problems.

4. In relation to official support, we gave particular emphasis to:

- the continuing need for substantial flows of official development assistance, particularly to the poorest developing countries, through bilateral and multilateral channels;

- the importance of making such assistance as effective as possible. An increased share of official development assistance should go to those developing countries which are pursuing effective strategies to address good governance, sustainable development and poverty reduction. Assistance to such countries should also be more flexible and better co-ordinated. We agreed to work in the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the IMF/IBRD Development Committee, the Special Programme for Africa to promote more flexible funding of aid and technical assistance programmes to developing countries, programmed in partnership with recipient countries. Where we have an effective partnership and share common goals, we should, to the extent possible and consistent with our programmes, aim to provide stronger support for budgets and balance of payments for countries undertaking bold reform in the context of sound development strategies. We will also work to help countries to develop sustainable public expenditure plans and build capacity to manage them in a transparent and accountable way;

- the importance of evaluating progress against multilaterally-accepted targets for poverty reduction and for improvements in primary education, basic health care, gender equality, water and sanitation, food security, environment and governance, and economic growth. We welcomed initiatives being taken by the UN, World Bank and OECD to report regularly on progress towards these goals;

- the substantial debt relief already given under Naples terms and the results achieved, with six countries already declared definitely eligible for HIPC debt relief and a further two countries likely to be declared eligible shortly. We encourage all eligible countries to take the policy measures needed to embark on the process as soon as possible so that all can be in the process by the year 2000. We agree that our export credit agencies should seek to ensure their export credits to HIPC countries are used productively.

5. We stressed the importance of more developing countries making the necessary reforms to attract flows of foreign direct investment and to mobilise additional domestic resources. To this end we agreed to:

- support countries seeking to create a business environment that encourages stable and productive private flows, in particular through education and training, institution building and improvement in legal systems, and in other aspects of social and economic infrastructure;

- encourage more innovative use of multilateral and bilateral investment guarantees, consistent with improving the efficiency of capital markets.

6. We called specifically on the international financial institutions to:

- support the development and implementation of regulatory frameworks for the financial sector;

- develop lending programmes which would more effectively create the elements of an attractive investment climate;

- make temporary resources available to countries undertaking ambitious trade liberalisation where this gives rise to short-term balance of payments or fiscal difficulties.

7. We emphasised the value of regional integration among developing countries that wish to pursue it, particularly in Africa, where many countries suffer from small and fragmented markets and poor transport facilities. We remain ready to support this process with technical assistance. We also urge the international financial institutions to develop more effective support and new instruments for regionally based initiatives.

8. We recognise the particular trade problems of the least developed countries. We stress the importance of effective implementation of the WTO plan of action for the least developed countries, including programmes of integrated technical assistance. We will keep progress under review at the WTO Ministerial.

9. We will also support efforts of all developing countries, particularly those being made in Africa, to promote good governance and participatory development and to fight corruption, including through the development of operational codes, as well as to create regional groupings to combat money laundering.

Electronic Commerce

10. Information and communication technologies offer all countries - industrialised, emerging and developing - the opportunity to revolutionise their quality of life and economic wellbeing. The potential impact of electronic commerce on global growth and employment is profound. Huge advances have already been made. Electronic markets link traders around the world and many jobs are dependent on the internet worldwide. We will work with the international institutions and the private sector to offer the best opportunities for the future: a predictable and stable environment and a seamless, decentralised global market place where competition and consumer choice drive economic activity. In particular, we welcome the work of the WTO, OECD, other appropriate international fora and the private sector, and encourage:

- removal of inappropriate and unnecessary legal barriers to the electronic conduct of business;

- taxation to be technology neutral. It should neither stifle commercial opportunities by creating unnecessary barriers nor provide increased scope for tax avoidance and evasion. International co-operation through the OECD is essential;

- the international institutions and the private sector to accelerate the development of global frameworks, to promote competition; protect privacy, consumer interests and intellectual property; encompass the use of electronic authentication facilitating contracting over the Internet; and include the promotion of open and internationally agreed standards;

- rapid progress in the work of UNCITRAL on electronic authentication and of the OECD on the implementation of the cryptography policy guidelines;

- public administration to use electronic means to deliver programmes and services, promoting progress in the WTO Working Group on Transparency in Government Procurement and the reform of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, and pushing forward the work on trade facilitation in the WTO and elsewhere;

- governments to involve business and consumers in this work to ensure that any proposals are practical and take into account the demands of the market place.

11. We look forward to progress at the Ottawa OECD Ministerial Conference in October and in other international fora. A framework on taxation is a priority. We have asked officials to report back next year.