"The planet is still increasingly divided and the gaps are widening", said Abderrahman Youssoufi, leader of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, and prime minister of Morocco, as he welcomed delegates to the Socialist International Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment who met in Casablanca on 4-5 May. The meeting, attended by representatives of member parties from Africa, Europe and Latin America, was chaired by Christoph Zöpel of the German Social Democratic Party, SPD, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Youssoufi added, "increasing trade liberalisation over the past twenty years has ended up in a situation where less than 10 per cent of the population of the world produces and consumes more than 70 per cent of all goods and services while half that population lives on less than two dollars a day."
The debate centred first on Economic Policy and Globalisation: Growth, Equity and Social Justice and, in the second instance, on Ecology - Safeguarding the Global Heritage.
In his introduction Zoepel, who chairs the Committee, underlined the need for social democrats to strengthen the social dimension of the world economy and make it respond to the agenda of the many.
The Committee discussed and adopted a paper entitled How to Make the World Economy More Social? It called, among other measures, for the reinsertion of development questions into the global agenda; better regulation of the flows of goods and finance; reform of international institutions; the adoption of basic principles for a global economic system and closer consideration of the position of transnational corporations.
On the institutions in particular it called for greater transparency in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; greater political control of both of them by the Board of Directors with a decrease in the power of their bureaucracies; stronger measures of oversight of them; better definition of their tasks and a reduction of these to the role for which they were initially created.
On the question of the further reform of international institutions the paper called for a prudent approach to additional liberalisation and a strengthening of the International Labour Office.
The Committee also received two reports, the first outlining the activities of the Working Group on the WTO. The second report summarised the activities of the Working Group on the Kyoto Agreement on Global Warming and the situation following the decision of the US government to withdraw support from the Agreement. This topic, together with that of the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Negotiations at Doha, will figure on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the SI Council in Lisbon at the end of June.
The next meeting of the Committee is to take place in late September in Mexico City and will take as its main theme — Bridges across the Digital Gap: the Role of Education in the 21st Century.