They closed their summit with a “declaration on the Arab spring” that pledged to back concrete economic political reforms across North Africa and the Middle East, starting with Egypt and Tunisia, two countries which ousted dictators but face economic downturn.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the entire package of aid marshalled for North Africa would total $40-billion, including $10-billion in bilateral aid from G8 countries, and another $10-billion from Arab gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The prime ministers of both Egypt and Tunisia had come to the summit seeking billions of dollars to address budget gaps, launch economic-development programs, and to seek capital for job-creation initiatives.
Tunisia’s foreign minister, Jalloul Ayed, said Friday that the money is key to securing the country’s path to democracy by providing hope, especially to young people that sparked the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The declaration did not specify which funds would come from which institution or country, instead tasking finance ministers and foreign ministers from the G8 – Canada, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia – with hammering out details “over the next few months.
Several G8 nations have offered their own aid packages to Egypt and Tunisia – though Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated Thursday that Canada doesn’t expect to offer its own bilateral aid package. Instead, he said he favours aid being delivered through multilateral development banks, noting that Canada has increased its loan-guarantee backing for several such banks since 2009.
The G8 declaration called for one of those Canadian-backed development banks, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to extend its lending to North African nations like Egypt and Tunisia.
G8 pledges $20-billion for Arab Spring countries - The Globe and Mail