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Britain Unveils Anti-Poverty Plan - 2001-12-17

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown on Monday outlined an initiative to help lift poor countries out of poverty. It would reward progress in economic development with increased investment and rely on more regional cooperation to bolster local economies. The British official said a planned new round of trade talks also provides an opportunity to boost prosperity in developing countries.

Mr. Brown calls his initiative the global alliance for prosperity. It would reward developing countries that follow the policy advice of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. More foreign assistance and investment would go to countries already making significant progress. "One way forward is joint investment forums that would bring together public and private sectors, examine the current barriers to investment, discuss, in light of regional conditions, how developing countries can secure high levels of business investment and take the first steps in the international marketplace through intra-regional trade," he said.

Mr. Brown says this increased cooperation between rich and poor countries is the proper response to the anti-globalization campaigners, who argue that the world economic system is inherently unfair and tilted toward the rich. Mr. Brown says no country over the past 30 years has emerged from poverty without embracing the world economy. "Trade and full trade liberalization could lift at least 300 million [people] out of poverty over the next 10 years," said Gordon Brown. "That is why we strongly welcome the World Trade Organization agreement in Doha to launch a new trade round, focused on development - why, in the next phase, we must take forward the agreements to open trade in agriculture."

Mr. Brown's proposals have been greeted with skepticism at the U.S. Treasury, which has a significant voice in the operations of the IMF. The Bush administration has been cool to the idea of increasing the powers of the IMF, and is unconvinced that foreign assistance funds should be significantly increased.

The British official says he will be actively promoting his plan at various international meetings over the next six months.