UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a new 10-year program Wednesday to reduce Africa's staggering $270-billion foreign debt after the failure of its previous five-year plan to raise living standards.
The new program lists a series of political commitments between donor nations and developing countries and recommends an average growth of 6% per year for African economies.
For the wealthy nations, the document commits them to "bold and innovative" measures to increase aid and reduce debt, and a commitment to a substantial reduction or removal of tariff and other barriers affecting African exports.
In return, developing countries commit themselves to promoting investments by the private sector.
At the behest of the United States, the document was altered to eliminate language implying that governments should pressure private commercial creditors on the debt issue, U.S. envoy Edward Marks said.
Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar had wanted governments of creditor nations to cancel official debt and work out ways to reduce money owed to commercial banks and multilateral institutions.
He had also proposed an African Diversification Fund for technical assistance to ease a chronic dependence by African countries on primary commodities for income. The new document recommends a study of the need and feasibility of such a fund.