G-8 faces setbacks to U.N. goals

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“If not handled properly, this crisis could result in a cascade of others,” Mr. Ban warned, “and become a multidimensional problem affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world.”

Food riots and fuel protests have erupted around the globe as governments struggle to limit the effects from the soaring costs of staples.

A second IMF report released last week looked specifically at Africa and identified 18 countries where the twin fuel and food price shocks have been especially damaging.

Benedicte Christensen, acting director of the IMF’s Africa department, said higher energy bills in the past two years amount to more than 2.5 percent of gross domestic product for many poor African nations.

Malawi, which reported early progress, is one of eight African countries where higher food and fuel costs in 2008 were equal to more than half of the country’s international reserves.

“The scale of the shocks and the central importance of the commodities involved threaten to derail macroeconomic stability, growth and efforts to achieve the MDGs,” the IMF survey concluded.

Oxfam International, a leading development activist group, concluded in a report last month that the Millennium Development Goals “will not be met if current trends continue.”

The aid group slammed the United States and other developed countries for failing to honor pledges to help poor countries meet the development goals.

It is pressing the G-8 countries this week to provide an additional $150 billion in “high-quality annual aid” to jump-start the world economy and help low-income countries cope with higher costs.

The progress made in the first years after the goals were issued in 2000 makes the setbacks “all the more unacceptable,” Oxfam said.

“Rapid increases in food prices threaten to reverse what gains have been made, thus driving millions back below the poverty line,” the group said. “At halftime, instead of coasting to victory, the world is staring at defeat.”

About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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