SHUNEH, Jordan (AFP) -Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Saturday opened a summit of G11 developing countries calling for a partnership with G8 industrialised nations and help to reduce the debt of low- and middle-income states.
“Our two organisations have a vital shared goal, to strengthen prosperity and peace in the 21st century,” he told heads of state and officials meeting on the shores of the Dead Sea on the sidelines of a Middle East World Economic Forum.
The G11, launched last September by King Abdullah, groups Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay and Sri Lanka.
Progress by these countries to forge ahead with reforms, build their economies and alleviate poverty rests on “having the budgetary space to continue to invest in development and economic growth,” the king said.
“For all of us, that space has been squeezed by fiscal and other constraints — high debt burdens, rising oil prices and other external shocks, rising employment demand and more.
“It is vital that the international community support our continued progress,” he said.
He said the G11 identified four priorities — debt alleviation, investment promotion, trade development and targeted grant assistance — and submitted them to the G8 for consideration at their next summit in June.
The two groups agreed “to discuss the establishment of a formal, institutional relationship” at the G8 gathering in Germany, the king said.
The G11 “will tell the world that the friends of development will not be satisfied until the house of prosperity is really open to all, that our countries are not simply welcomed up the path, not simply left at the door, but invited, gladly, over the threshold and into the house,” he added.
The presidents of Georgia, Croatia, Sri Lanka and El Salvador attended the G11 summit alongside the vice president of Honduras and the prime ministers of Pakistan and Morocco.
Observers from G8 members Germany and Japan were also present.
The G11 “can gradually build into a platform to promote free trade,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters in Amman on Friday.
“We need to promote, project and build on our reformist agenda,” he said of the grouping, which aims to reduce debt owed by member states, alleviate poverty and raise standards of living.
“The developing world needs today trade more than anything because trade is permanent. Trade creates an industrial base and jobs which will drive growth forward,” Aziz added.
Ahead of the summit Jordan signed cooperation agreements with Georgia, El Salvador, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The accord with Georgia is the first of its kind between the two nations, Jordanian Planning Minister Suhair Ali said, adding that it was aimed at drawing up a comprehensive framework of bilateral ties.
A similar agreement between Jordan and El Salvador set guidelines for cooperation in trade, investment and tourism.
Jordan and Pakistan also inked a memorandum of understanding for a “strategic dialogue” to bolster economic, political and cultural cooperation between the two Muslim nations.
Amman and Colombo signed two agreements to boost economic and trade ties and develop cultural relations, and a third accord on strengthening cooperation was signed by the chambers of trade and industry of Jordan and Sri Lanka.