“The subsidy war between Americans, Chinese and Europeans and their sectoral protectionism does not suit the South”

VSLike the plagues of the Apocalypse in the Old Testament, hard blows repeatedly fall on the poorest of countries. Successive shocks feeding off each other, the Covid-19 pandemic, climate delusions, inflation, Russian war in Ukraine, sluggish growth in China, decline in world trade and forgotten promises from the rich North, all combine to overwhelm the Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America.

The Annual General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) which opened on Tuesday September 19 in New York has nothing to celebrate. It does not meet any of the development objectives that, in a rather unbearable lyrical-voluntarist mode, it ritually proclaims. In 2015, she launched her “sustainable development goals” : eradicate extreme poverty from the face of the planet by 2030 – “zero starvation”. Words blown away with the first wind on the East River, alongside the United Nations headquarters.

Our colleague Nicholas Kristof is a cruel man. In the September 16 edition of New York Timesit compares the reality of today’s figures with the promises made in 2015. The objective was called “sustainable development 2030”. Unless exceptional mobilization is improbable, it will not be achieved. “What we predict for 2030 is 575 million people living in extreme poverty”writes Kristof.

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In its spring 2023 report, the World Bank, not keen on catastrophism, painted the same panorama, that of a bleak future for the poorest of the poor. In 2024, in the third of the poorest countries, per capita income will be lower than it was in 2019. The UN has little to do with this matter. It is what its members are. She does what they decide to do. In itself, the Assembly has no other power than incantatory power.

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Since the 2000s – and even a little before – the fraction of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has continued to decline. Between the North and the South, the gap has narrowed, even if within the countries concerned, whether they belong to the rich or poor world, inequalities have increased. Alas, we would be at the dawn of a reversal of the situation: “the reduction in global inequality appears to have stopped”, according to figures cited in the Financial Times, THE June 19. The gap could widen again between the North (including China, of course) and the South.

We will say that this terrible regression is cyclical, produced by three years of Covid-19 followed by the Russian war in Ukraine. The latter fueled inflation. The rise in prices of energy and basic food products weighs primarily on sub-Saharan Africa. Vladimir Putin is one of those directly responsible for the malnutrition which affects millions of Africans today. The fact remains: many countries in the South blame Western sanctions and the “diversion” of assistance that the support provided to kyiv would represent. Finally, the rise in interest rates – to fight inflation – hits a poor South already heavily in debt.

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