In remarks to a gathering of African government ministers in Washington on March 16, U.S. President Bill Clinton said that debt relief is an issue of truly global importance. He asked the international community to take actions, including sales of gold from the IMF, that could result in forgiving an estimated $70 billion in global debt.
To achieve this goal, Clinton proposed that the Group of seven industrial countries consider significant enhancements of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative at the Cologne summit in June. These include
a new focus on early relief by international financial institutions;
complete forgiveness of all bilateral concessional loans to the poorest countries;
deeper and broader reduction of other bilateral debts, raising the amount of the reduction to 90 percent of total debt;
commitment by donor countries to provide at least 90 percent of new development assistance on a grant basis to countries eligible for debt reduction;
new approaches to help countries emerging from conflicts that have not had the chance to establish reform records and need immediate relief and concessional finance; and
support for gold sales by the IMF and additional contributions by the United States and other countries to the HIPC Trust Fund.
Evidence continues to mount of the close links between export performance, the degree of trade liberalization, and economic development.