Table of Contents

  • At Kingston in May 1975 Commonwealth Heads of Government invited a small group of experts from member countries to propose practical measures, in the context of the current international dialogue, directed at closing the gap between rich and poor countries. The Interim Report of the group of ten experts, with Mr. Alister McIntyre as Chairman, was given general endorsement by Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Georgetown in August 1975. Ministers then requested me to make the Interim Report available to the international community, particularly in the context of the Seventh Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

  • The months since the middle of 1975, when we wrote our Interim Report, have brought positive progress in the development of an organised dialogue on the implementation of a new international economic order. The Seventh Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly identified the common ground that existed between the developed and developing countries, and outlined some directions for further discussion of unresolved issues. We consider that all parties recognise the importance of building upon the conclusions of the Seventh Special Session, by coming to early agreement on specific programmes of action for the benefit of the developing countries.

  • Commodity matters were discussed in considerable detail at the Ottawa meeting of the Group and our views are set out at some length in the Interim Report. There are however new developments which make continued attention to commodity problems unavoidable, especially in view of the importance of commodity earnings and the proper organisation of commodity markets for the economies of developing countries and progress towards a new international economic order.

  • In our Interim Report we drew attention to the serious burden which the external debt outstanding at the end of 1973, estimated at about $120 billion, has created on the continuing development of a number of developing countries. While the total debt has been growing for a number of years at an accelerated rate, its composition has also been changing, with a more rapid growth in private capital flows, particularly private bank credits, which has resulted in a more pronounced acceleration in debt service payments than in outstanding debt. In 1973, debt service payments by developing countries thus reduced by nearly half the gross transfer of financial resources to these countries.

  • We emphasised in our Interim Report that the accelerated development of manufacturing activities in the developing countries must be an essential part of a new international economic order. Manufacturing and processing activities are crucial to development not only because they are a prerequisite for modernising agriculture and satisfying basic human needs but also because of their contribution to the creation of employment. The reality facing the world is that, over the next 25 years, 1,000 million more people will be added to the labour force in the developing countries.

  • If there is a single theme which runs through our recommendations it is that the need for action is so urgent that every effort must be made to promote it within existing institutions and arrangements rather than await the establishment of new ones. This will also give the international community the time to undertake the necessary reforms in existing institutions and arrangements. Indeed, we propose to give considerable attention in our final report to institutional questions, especially in the fields of trade and finance.