Perhaps this is the first appropriate occasion the Sub-Committee on Development Co-Operation of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs has had to make a comment by way of context. Reference has been made to the statement by President Bush that the European Union is responsible for deaths in Africa. That is an outrageous and scandalous statement in terms of the aid, in gross terms, delivered by the European Union to a world that desperately needs it, which is seven times what the United States spends. On untied development aid, the European Union spends three times what the United States spends. The proportion of income spent on aid in the United States is slightly less than that of Uganda.
The idea that we should transfer genetically modified products to a continent at the behest of the transnational corporations, use countries desperately in need of food as guinea pigs for uncomplete scientific procedures, create an effective monopoly in seeds and do real and unassessed damage to ecological diversity is simply outrageous. I hope many Members of the Dáil and the Seanad will use every opportunity to tell the acting Ambassador - we have not had an ambassador from the United States since God knows when - what we think of that suggestion.
That brings me to the preparations for the Cancun conference, a point I made previously. I have become weary raising these issues. What will be the Irish Government's stance on genetically modified organisms at the Cancun conference? The three speakers drew our attention to some matters on which there must be 90% or 100% agreement, but the reality relates to what has been circulated to us by way of documentation for this sub-committee meeting. There are two documents - the speech made last Friday by the Minister of State for development, Deputy Tom Kitt, whose heart I have no doubt is in the right place, and a paper presented by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business. These papers are not reconcilable but for the sake of ease of business I will reduce my comments to straightforward questions.
The paper from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is an elaborate document prepared by Forfás, which I referred to last Friday as being based on mass meetings held by IBEC throughout the country to which I do not remember getting an invitation. The reality is that the position taken in that paper on pharmaceuticals is not the same as the position taken by those on the development side. What has been agreed by way of a code of practice? What has been agreed in relation to foreign direct investment? What has been agreed in relation to technology transfer and sharing technology?
When one is in the Dáil or Seanad a long time one can hit a barren passage, and it strikes one how language itself is being abused. I hit one of those when it came to what has happened between the Doha and Cancun conferences on HIV-AIDS. The reality is that, contrary to what many people thought, the Doha conference did nothing for countries without the capacity to produce generic alternatives to patented drugs. It went some way towards dealing with countries that had the capacity to produce at a lower level. The countries without the capacity were left untouched, therefore, and those to whom the concession was made had no right to sell or provide to those countries without the capacity. The briefing paper suggests that the Cancun conference will open with nothing agreed in respect of that but what will have happened in the meantime is extensive lobbying by the pharmaceutical companies to achieve what they did not achieve previously.
We now come to where we were in relation to the presentations. I raised an issue about the notion that we are now playing in the first league because there is a common European position. I am an elected Member of the Dáil and you, Chairman, are a Member of the Seanad. When did we decide on the agenda for the Cancun conference? What discussion did we have on the common European agenda? When did we have an opportunity to ask the question I have just asked? It is not in my name that any Minister of State goes to Cancun and seeks to impose a neo-liberal agenda in relation to trade, irrespective of the consequences.
The hypocrisy of Bush, and I call him that, in relation to the bleeding world, a world that is experiencing death every day, is highlighted by the fact that every year since Uruguay, the continent that lost out was Africa. The current trade distortions are $134 billion, which is approximately 210% of the total aid. The man who wants to tell the European Union that we are guilty of killing people in Africa spent $396.1 billion on his defence budget last year when $28 billion would have provided clean water for every child on the planet; $25 billion would provide free primary education and $80 billion would provide most of the basic necessities.
On the trade issue, I understand the Minister of State, the Chairman's distinguished brother, is just back from Uganda, a country that has reduced its tariffs by 50% but did it want to do that? We now come to the nub of the matter. It was bludgeoned into doing that if it wanted to attract foreign direct investment. The trade regime going into and out of Cancun is not independent of pressure that is put in relation to aid. Incidentally, aid was 30% less in 2000 than it was in 1990. There is no point in us congratulating ourselves, hoping we have a lovely trip and being honoured at meeting everyone else - I am sure the sociability will be grand - when the situation is dire. Circumstances have got worse in terms of aid. The trade is unbelievable.
On the debt side, one of the two countries mentioned was Mali. In the case of Mali, every 1% of GDP deflected from debt repayment to education and health creates the capacity for 11,000 children per day to live. The neo-liberal monster, driven by turbo-capitalism, that has been released on the world is what is responsible for death and destruction and no Texan hick can give me lectures about what is the cause of it. Sadly, I have been speaking for such a long time about death and destruction in Africa, Asia and Latin America that I am sometimes filled with despair. We should not lend ourselves in any way to the notion that we can apply generally the neo-liberal model.
Page 2.3 of the enterprise and trade document states that the European Union is seeking better access for European service providers in foreign markets and to secure a more transparent and predictable environment in these markets. It goes on to state that these EU requests are not designed to undermine the right of governments to regulate to achieve public policy objectives and that they do not seek to dismantle public services. Reference to GATT is made, which, it states, expressly provides that all governments can legitimately regulate economic and uneconomic sectors. If that is translated into reality and if people are allowed to privatise the provision of health, education and other services, the staff that are available will flow into them. In one country after another that I visited, it will not be possible to hire somebody to provide public education. This is as true in Cambodia as it is in many of the countries in Africa. Following the freeing of services, the NGOs will become second areas to which staff will gravitate, where a better salary will be paid than that offered by the state.
This amounts to an attack on the capacity of people to develop their services. The issue centres on what is meant by a public good. Is it water provision, education, electricity, schooling and such like? I spent a great deal of time in preparation for the Cancun summit, but will not attend it. However, I wanted to raise this issue.
The 133 Committee is crucial. The pharmaceutical companies have had access to it while the Oireachtas has not. When are we going to see the different presentations and when will we have access to the committee's deliberations? I would like to know what has been agreed by the committee.
Many African countries are under pressure of losing aid and foreign direct investment, which amounts to 0.4% of GDP. It is 0.2% and falling in sub-Saharan Africa. The countries in the region have been told that unless they accept dumped rice, which is not part of the native diet, they will not be allowed get into rice production on their own, while chicken farming has been forbidden in various countries. At the same time, people bludgeon their way into native markets, which have been stifled. It is outrageous for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to suggest in a footnote that at a time when countries are subjected to all of this blackmail, they will be able to regulate in the interests of public policy. They will have no leverage left because of the combination of blackmail on aid, trade and debt. It is time we realised this.
I considered the reports of the United Nations economic commission for Africa and Latin America and compared them with those by the OECD. IBEC and Forfás would be pleased with what the OECD has to say. In one report it said that water would be the next big investment and it urges investment in water and privatisation of the supply. It also suggests that education is the second most lucrative investment in the world. Last year's documents stated that the role of the state in education is to provide only for those who would not be useful. This is the world we are dealing with prior to the Cancun summit. When I hear about the reconciled position, I support some of the views on decoupling expressed by the Minister for Agriculture and Food. Rural Ireland will have to wake up to the implications of maintaining farm families. It was never related to price and support mechanisms, nor about producing artificial food mountains.
The European Union has done some good things. I do not diminish the everything but arms programme and the offer of aid to countries to go to Geneva. In preparing for the Cancun summit, 6,000 meetings will be held in Geneva. I spoke to representatives from some of the African countries who had been assisted in attending six meetings.
Has the green room phenomenon ended? One document says it has, yet it is evident in another. If regional positions are taken, what chance do these countries have? We should attend the Cancun summit with our eyes open and a willingness to open up every part of the process and face some hard decisions. For example, is it because we rely on foreign direct investment that we will never voice criticism of the pharmaceuticals issue or that because we are afraid to deal in a straightforward manner with reform of the CAP that we will not speak on agricultural subsidies and distortion? Is it because we are, somehow or another, part of the discourse that we refuse to accept the fact that there is no equality of discourse in preparing for the Cancun summit, nor was there for anywhere else? That is why those who are deprived of the discourse in the parliaments of the world will have to join with those who are on the streets. It is why I do so, and will continue in that regard.