Against expectation, Paris Finance Summit promises are real

The Paris Finance Summit, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron with the theme ‘A New Global Financing Pact’ was held in June 2023.
Over 40 world leaders, including a dozen from Africa, with China’s prime minister and Brazil’s president were in attendance.
An array of multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group (WBG), World Trade Organization (WTO), European Union Development Bank (EUDB), African Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and many others, alongside top global private corporations and business leader’s from around the world participated in the summit.
In his welcome address, President Macron said it was “time to act or trust would be lost”. This statement re-echoed the evidence that most poor countries are already looking elsewhere for friends that could be trusted, just as the BRICS Olive’s branch spread across the globe.
The summit aims to give impetus to a new global finance agenda in addition to create roadmap for the next 18-24 months, ranging from debt relief to climate finance.
The French president’s speech did set the tone that later formed the bridge between many of the topics on the agenda with a call for suggestions from a group of developing countries. However, pertinent issues have always been raised since this yearly initiative summit started few years back. On top of each meeting’s discussion is debt, climate financing, ease of financing, boosting capital lending and others.
This year’s meeting was very much alive to previous meetings’ promises and mouth watering announcement.
Interestingly, promises aimed to “boost crisis financing for low-income states and ease their debt burdens were top; followed by reform for post-war financial systems and free of funds to tackle climate change; seeking commitment by getting top-level consensus on how to promote a number of initiatives”.
There was a charge against international bodies like G20, COP, IMF-World Bank and United Nations struggling to make impact through their various development initiatives.
It was not surprising that leaders at the summit admitted that some bodies are outdated to tackle current global economic challenges, chiefly, IMF and World Bank were fingered.
For instance, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire were of the view that the “World Bank and other multilateral financial institutions needed a new vision”. They backed their views by citing the ongoing war in Ukraine, lending climate crisis, tasking and widening disparity and declining global economy progress, and ineffective leadership. Consequently, all this centred on the summit rallying discussion thrust.
Hence, a look at global economic, macroeconomic and the burden of inequality as suggested, shows that most of these multilateral institutions are failing, making us to ask, what is in Paris Finance Summit? What solution is it providing towards global economic problems? What about underdeveloped and emerging but struggling nations. How will the Paris summit help them survive tough economic times.
And we are not in this alone, the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, leading a group of developing countries under the banner “Bridgetown Initiative” called for a “push for multilateral development banks like the World Bank to put more capital at risk to boost lending”.
As if that was not enough, Antonio Guterres the United Nations Secretary General was very critical calling the global financial system outdated, dysfunctional and unjust. He said, “It is clear that the international financial architecture has failed in its mission to provide a global safety net for developing countries,”
On his part, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed demanded for a boost to below-market financing and more grants. He called for “a robust and predictable financial safety net, decrying a situation where African countries are facing an unprecedented funding squeeze which have aggravated their vulnerabilities.”

The global community cannot forget in a hurry how the coronavirus pandemic pushed many poor countries into debt distress as they were expected to continue servicing their obligations in spite of the massive shock to their economy and finances. Equally, is the challenge of revenue crisis that was worsened by corruption and inefficient leadership.
Although, Africa’s debt woes are compounded the dual challenge faced by some of the world’s poorest countries of tackling the impacts of climate change while adapting to the green transitions. This however falls short of wealthy nations mouth watering promises on climate finance that they announced as part of a past pledge to mobilise $100 billion a year, a key stumbling block at global climate talks.
At the summit, the World Bank President Ajay Banga announced the global lender’s latest policy “toolkit”, that stands to “offering a pause in debt repayments, giving countries flexibility to redirect funds for emergency response, providing new types of insurance to help development projects and helping governments build advance-emergency systems”. Accordingly, the policy, according to the World Bank, is “designed to give developing nations some breathing space”. What would this eventually become especially as the burden of debt sadly reversed the gains of this poor countries development tracks!
And in a clear term, the Chinese government being the world’s largest bilateral creditor in recent times has been pushing for lenders like the World Bank and IMF to absorb some of the losses, which the institutions and rich countries oppose. This means that debts of poor countries can be let go, because more debts are incurred in the name of servicing old debts.

The summit also wants more engagements from the private sector participation on global financing spray to poor countries. Nevertheless, this year’s summit ushered in another promises from a coalition of countries that said it would provide 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) to Senegal to help it achieve its target of 40% of installed capacity from renewable energies by 2030. Macky Sall President of Senegal discloses this agreement his country signed with Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). JETP has had similar deals with Indonesia, Vietnam and South Africa in 2021. Also, it’s cheering that the likes of Zambia’s debt restructuring proposal was ready after more than two years of negotiations.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu participated at the summit and held high-profile sideline meetings. The president pushed out his “advocacy for widening the fiscal space, economic justice for Africa as the world accelerates the pace of energy transition, and the urgency of addressing the pressing issues of poverty and climate change”. We believe this was well received by fellow heads of state and government, global business leaders and chief executives of leading multilateral and development financial institutions from around the world. We hope some of his meetings’ resolution would be made public moving forward.

The summit may have ended but the questions we asked earlier in this piece are not new. They have been asked before and what are lacking are concrete answers. Although, this itself is not not enough compared to expectation that a summit of this nature are usual. But more difficulty is the strategy and tactics capable of ensuring the linking of finance to the actual challenge of today’s situation.

What is to be done? What we are talking about centres on the road we take, financial reforms, multilateral or bilateral. Unless development finance becomes more effective in the way they are used, it will lead only to incorporating poverty of the global system.

Olamilekan, a political economist, writes via
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