A seminar dealing with the impacts of the financial and economic crisis on developing countries was held on March 31 at Egmont Palace in Brussels. Organized jointly by the OIF (International Francophonie Organization), Egmont Palace, the Canadian Embassy and the Québec Government Office in Brussels, the seminar’s purpose was to provide an opportunity to consider the implications of the crisis for developing countries and the role the international community could play to minimize its repercussions.
From left to right: Michel Chaurette, Executive Director, CECI, Ali Bayar, Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Louis de Lorimier, Ambassador of Canada, Maria Niculescu, of the OIF, Christos Sirros, General Delegate of Québec in Brussels, Léonce Ndikumana, Director of the Development Research Department at the African Development Bank and Ann Weston, NSI <i>(Photo credit : J. Willemen - Canadian Embassy)</i>
The event is an outcome of the 12th Francophonie Summit held in Québec City from October 17 to 19, 2008. Heads of state and government attending the Summit were concerned by the potential economic and social consequences the crisis might have, particularly for populations in the South.
Maria Niculescu, OIF representative to the European Union, chaired the seminar. The OIF is composed of 56 member states and governments and 14 observers. The organization’s two main focal points are political action and cooperation.
Addressing an audience composed primarily of ambassadors, international organization representatives and experts in economic development, four speakers shared their analysis of the situation and recommended possible solutions.
The speakers were Léonce Ndikumana, Director of the Development Research Department of the African Development Bank, Michel Chaurette, Executive Director of the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation, Ann Weston, Vice President and Research Coordinator of the Canadian North-South Institute and Ali Bayar, Professor of Economics at the Free University of Brussels (ULB).
Mr. Ndikumana noted that the economic crisis is aggravating the effects of the recent food crisis. He then stressed the need for rich countries to take concrete action and follow through on their promises of aid, even in times of crisis.
Michel Chaurette, who was invited by Québec’s Ministère des Relations internationales, summarized the problem by calling it a choice between concrete and people. He underscored the extent to which developing countries are suffering from the crisis and argued in favour of aid that gives priority to local farming and creates jobs.
Convinced that trade must become a tool for sustainable development, Ann Weston emphasized the importance of using aid for trade wisely and enhancing cooperation between North and South.
Ali Bayar pointed out that crises have been generally regarded, and wrongly so, as a thing of the past. This first global crisis we are experiencing spares neither advanced nor emerging countries, although they are not all effected in the same way.
Transcripts of the experts’ presentations and documents pertaining to the seminar:
Speakers’ biographical notes
Presentation by Léonce Ndikumana, Director of the Development Research Department, ADB
Presentation by Michel Chaurette, Executive Director, CECI
Presentation by Ann Weston, Vice President and Research Coordinator, North-South Institute
Presentation by Ali Bayar, Professor of Economics, ULB