In a statement on behalf of the Interim Committee at the IMF meetings in Washington on April 21, 1996, Mr. Kenneth Clarke stated that the most pressing issue on the agenda was the need to deal with "the plight of those poor countries whose access to capital markets and whose growth prospects are being constrained for the foreseeable future by debt overhang." He stated that the IMF and the World Bank had a role to play in working to alleviate this issue and could do so by selling a portion of the IMF gold and putting the proceeds towards the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (an idea first mooted last year in the lead up to Halifax and strongly pushed by the British).
The Major government has always called for open economic policies, more competition, sound finances and a strong public sector. In the mind of the Prime Minister these are essential to developing increased trade and spurring job creation. Britain's economic well-being is heavily dependent upon trade as it is the world's fifth largest trading nation and is the G-7 country with the highest stock of overseas investment. As such, the UK will want to see a strong endorsement for the agenda set for the WTO Ministerial in December as Britain is worried over the tendency of the U.S. and the E.U. to look inward and raise protectionist obstacles to trade. It sees the G-7 as a process within which it can encourage the two to remain open-minded on trade and financial matters.
Britain supports full involvement of the Russians in political discussions but not their admission to the economic side of the discussions. It wants to encourage reform forces in Russia but to remain neutral on which leader they would prefer to win the Presidential elections.
In the wake of the recent bombing of the U.S. military residence in Saudi Arabia, terrorism will rank as one of those Summit-stealing issues. This can only help the Major government as it is engaged in the talks on Northern Ireland. With the G-7 Ministerial on Countering Terrorism that took place in Ottawa on December 12, 1995, the renewed IRA bombing campaign that resulted in Manchester being the latest target, and this latest attack, the momentum for closer co-operation will be greatlly enhanced and will receive the full support of the Major government.
This specific issue rremains at the fore with Britain's call for a continuation of the process of institutional review begun at Halifax. On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the UN British PM John Major stated that some UN bodies should be reviewed and scrapped and that drastic reforms were needed to eliminate waste and duplication. He pointed to UNCTAD, UNIDO, UNESCO, and the five regional economic commissions. Major also criticized the U.S. for not paying its dues and there is an understanding that the UNSC should be expanded but the issue remains blocked by questions of who and how many.
Britain wants to discourage the U.S. from pulling out of Bosnia and encourage G7 solidarity in supporting the implementation of the Dayton accords and the reconstruction of democratic institutions.
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