Zuma, Sarkozy share similar G20 agenda
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will both push the interests of developing countries at the G20 summit which starts in Cannes, France, tomorrow, France’s ambassador to South Africa Jacques Lapouge said yesterday.
Lapouge acknowledged that the summit would have no choice but to focus on the global economic crisis, even though France and other members had been hoping to move beyond crisis management towards restructuring global finances and economics.
However, as host, Sarkozy would still ensure that development remained a priority, Lapouge said, noting that Sarkozy, Zuma and South Korean President Myung-bak Lee were co-chairmen of the development working group created at last year’s G20 summit in Seoul.
Lapouge said that although the G20 had agreed on nine pillars to boost development, the Cannes summit would focus on the three considered most important: food security, building infrastructure and finding new ways of financing development.
The ambassador said a highlight of the Cannes summit would be Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates presenting a report on innovative financing for development, offering a “menu of options”.
Lapouge said France hoped that all G20 member countries would champion one or more of the different methods of innovative financing.
According to media reports, Gates will urge G20 countries, several of which are reluctant, to back a proposed tax on global financial transactions to finance development and dealing with climate change, which France and Germany support.
Gates has reportedly said that a tax as low as 0.1 percent on global equity transactions and 0.02 percent on global bond transactions would raise about $50 billion (R390bn) a year if adopted by all G20 countries.
Yesterday, nearly 20 South African civil society groups, including Cosatu, the Black Sash, the Treatment Action Campaign, Oxfam and Greenpeace, signed an open letter to Zuma urging him to convince other G20 leaders to support this “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions, which they said could raise more than $300bn a year if adopted by all countries.
“It is time both South Africa and the international community made the financial sector pay its fair share of the costs of the financial crisis,” the letter said.
Lapouge said Sarkozy would also stress in Cannes the need for donor countries in the G20 and beyond to reaffirm their prior commitments to increase conventional official development aid, despite the global downturn.
Lapouge said France had achieved its target of spending 0.5 percent of its gross national income on aid by 2010 and was on track to reach the global target of 0.7 percent by 2015.
Zuma would push the G20’s development agenda at the summit, his office said in a statement, although without mentioning innovative financing specifically.
It said he would push for ways to increase economic growth, for innovative ways to create jobs and more infrastructure development in Africa.
“The president will further call for global governance reforms to reflect the interests of the African continent and the developing world.”