Reports from Gleneagles

The terrorist bombings in London displaced attention on the G8 and its discussions on poverty and debt relief in Africa.  Although, we were unlikely to hear any sustained account of how argicultural subsidies in the West depress food prices in the Third World to levels where local farmers cannot compete, thereby lose their livelihoods, and fall into poverty.  Of course, given the fact that rural voting blocks are powerful in the United States, France and elsewhere, ending subsidies may be an enormous, if not wholly insurmountable hurdle.  Focusing on aid and debt relief may be a second best solution.

Michael Holman offers some thoughts on the meeting at Gleneagles.

“Is Africa better off after Gleneagles? The continent’s profile is higher, debate about its crisis is better informed and more vigorous. That can only be a good thing. And yes, there will be more money, though that is not necessarily beneficial – and we need to read the fine print that accompanies this largesse. Trade reform, which is vital to Africa’s recovery, will have to wait until the WTO round in Hong Kong in December. So it is too early for a confident assessment of what after all is a process, and not an event. Of just one thing do I feel certain: the politicians (Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) outmanoeuvred the pop stars (Bob Geldof and Bono). . .

By the end of the summit, Geldof and Bono were defending an outcome that, whatever its merits, clearly fell short of their original demands.”

(Read the other commentaries here.)