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Texte en français
TUAC EVALUATION OF THE OUTCOME OF THE G8 COLOGNE SUMMIT
<! en dessous, insérer le texte ->1. The Cologne G8 leaders summit
was preceded by a G7 Finance Ministers meeting some days before, which
drew up a new initiative on debt relief for the poorest countries, but
failed to take significant new initiatives to re-regulate financial markets
and reform the global financial architecture. The prevailing sentiment
amongst Finance Ministers and Central Bankers is that the global financial
and economic system has stabilised since the near meltdowns of 1998. The
G8 leaders summit itself issued a separate Charter on the aims and
ambitions for lifelong learning but despite this the meeting was more significant
for its political than its economic outcome. It was the occasion of a re-establishment
of relations between the Russian President and the other G8 leaders, following
the ending of the war in Kosovo. The economic reconstruction of the Balkans
also loomed large on the agenda.
2. Trade union leaders from the G8 countries and international organisations
had held two hours of consultation with Chancellor Schroeder before the Summit. For the first time in these pre-summit consultations the German
government issued a statement following the meeting, which covered some
areas of common ground between the trade union side and the Summit host.
These documents are being circulated to TUAC affiliates but are also available
on the G8 webside http://www.g8cologne.de
3. The trade union delegation in submitting the written trade union
statement to the Cologne Summit had four central objectives:
- to persuade the governments of the need for more vigorous
action to expand demand to raise growth and job creation, particularly
in Europe and Japan;
4. The Summit outcome was mixed on all of these items:
- to create an opportunity for a greater public and trade union input
to the debate on the international financial market architecture;
- to achieve a significant increase in debt relief for the poorest countries;
- and to build support for core labour standards to be made a central
issue for the WTO Ministerial meeting in Seattle.
Jobs and Growth
5. The trade union statement warned that there was no room for complacency
on the global economic recovery, while financial markets had stabilised
for the time being; one third of the world was still in recession with
a devastating impact on jobs, living standards and growth. The G7 communiqué
called for balanced macroeconomic policies supportive of domestic demand
and investment while preserving price stability (G7 paragraph 2). For
emerging economies it was noted that recovery requires a supportive international
environment characterised by solid aggregate G7 domestic demand and open
markets (G7 paragraph 3). There was little on specifics however for action
to support demand in Europe or Asia.
6. The G8 leaders issued a Charter on aims and ambitions for lifelong
learning. This appears to add little to the G8 Labour Ministers Jobs
Conference conclusions of February 1999, which encouraged a partnership
approach between employers, government, unions on the whole issue. TUAC
will be following this up with the OECD and BIAC in the months ahead.
7. The G8 communiqué recalled for future work between the OECD
and UNESCO to raise educational standards (G8 paragraph 18).
Financial Market Regulation
8. The G7 statement took a less activist approach to the re-regulation
of financial market architecture than the G7 Ministers did at their October
1998 meeting. The communiqué gave official endorsement of the Financial
Stability Forum set up at the Bank of International Settlements in Basle.
They gave support to efforts to increase transparency and information on
financial and monetary policy and said that the private sector would have
to shoulder more of the risk for faulty loans.
9. The idea of a social code appears now to have been moved from the
World Bank to the United Nations for follow-up which risks resulting in
it being buried. Moreover, more radical reform of the IMF as called for
by the international trade union movement has been shied away from. The
trade union call for an International Commission on International Financial
Markets has not been met. In the discussions with Chancellor Schroeder
he suggested that the Financial Stability Forum at the BIS should be the
appropriate body for dialogue with the trade union movement. This is being
followed up jointly by the TUAC, ICFTU and FIET.
Debt and Development
10. The Summits main economic initiative was to extend the Highly Indebted
Poor Countries Initiative as part of a major debt relief initiative. This
was in response to the high profile Jubilee 2000 coalition campaign on
debt and the longstanding trade union calls for G8 and OECD governments
to write off bilateral debts and allow the international financial institutions
to follow suit provided countries respected human rights including trade
11. The eventual agreement is forecast to reduce the stock of debt of
the poorest countries by some 70 billion Dollars, to the advantage of 36-41
countries. This is a significant increase on past measures if it is fully
acted on. In the past debt initiatives have been announced and countries
have not profited in practice. Moreover, there is great variation in the
amount by which countries will gain.
Trade and Globalisation
12. The trade union statement called on the G8 to ensure that core labour
standards are on the agenda of any new trade round to be launched at the
Seattle WTO Ministerial meeting to begin in November 1999. The G8 called
for a broad-based and ambitious round of trade negotiations beginning
in Seattle (G8 paragraph 10). It recognised the need to improve the transparency
of the WTO and to make it more responsive to civil society. They also
urged to see a more effective way within the WTO for addressing the trade
and environment relationship and promoting sustainable development and
social and economic welfare world-wide (G8 paragraph 9).
13. In a separate section on core labour standards the G8 leaders stated
...We stress the importance of effective co-operation between the WTO
and the ILO on the social dimension of globalisation and trade liberalisation
(G8 paragraph 26). This treatment can be taken as a very hesitant step
within the G8 to move to a discussion of labour standards within the WTO.
Making this a reality in the run-up to Seattle is a top priority for the
international trade union movement.
14. With regard to health issues related to the contamination of beverages
and meats, which occurred recently, President Chirac of France proposed
that the G8 should establish a new body to monitor food safety at the international
level. This was resisted by some delegations in part because of ongoing
disputes in the WTO on food issues. The Summit did however invite the OECD
Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight of Biotechnology
and the OECD Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds to undertake
a study of the implications of biotechnology and other aspects of food
safety G8 paragraph 43). The Task Force has subsequently invited TUAC
to take part in the next meeting of the Task Force scheduled for September
1999 (see TUAC Evaluation of the Outcome of the Meeting of OECD Science
and Technology Ministers, June 1999).
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