Police officers protest in Tunisia, where the popular uprisings began
Police officers hold a banner reading "the revolution is not anarchy" during a demonstration on September 6, at the government headquarters in Tunis. G8 finance ministers have outlined plans to support the Arab Spring amid claims their previous promises to help the region's transition from dictatorship to democracy did not materialise. © Salah Habibi - AFP
Police officers protest in Tunisia, where the popular uprisings began
Rory Mulholland, AFP
Last updated: October 19, 2011

G8 renews pledge to help Arab Spring states

G8 finance ministers outlined plans Saturday to support the Arab Spring amid claims their previous promises to help the region's transition from dictatorship to democracy did not materialise.

The Group of Eight finance chiefs meeting in Marseille reaffirmed their pledges for $40 billion (29 billion euros) in financing to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan over the next two years, officials said.

The money is earmarked to support reform and help new governments weather short-term economic instability in the wake of popular uprisings that began in Tunisia and toppled its strongman leader before spreading to Egypt and Libya.

The finance ministers on Friday vowed tough measures to get the global economy back on track but were short on detail and admitted the problems were so complex that a unified response was impossible.

The gathering in the southern French city came as stock market turmoil returned to the United States and Europe after the resignation of the European Central Bank's top economist fuelled fears over the continent's debt crisis.

The ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States on Saturday turned their attention to the Arab Spring.

They had invited Libya's new rulers to Marseille in a follow-up to the economic support for post-revolutionary governments announced at a G8 meeting in Deauville, northern France, in May.

The fledgling Libyan administration's officials on Saturday joined Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia to explain how they planned to relaunch their economies and hear what help they can expect from the world's major economic powers.

G8 ministers were due to formally endorse what they are calling the extended Deauville partnership later Saturday after spending the morning debating the challenges faced by Arab Spring states.

The G8 summit in Deauville promised these states $40 billion for development and democracy in a range of international offers of aid and loans.

Half of the aid was supposed to come from institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund with the rest coming from the Gulf states, Turkey and other countries.

But this week both Egypt and Tunisia -- which are due to hold elections before the end of the year -- said they had so far received little or nothing.

Tunisia's Finance Minister Jalloul Ayed told the Financial Times that his country had received not a penny, while his Egyptian counterpart said only $500 million had come through.

Delays in delivering on the funding could complicate the transition to democracy in both north African states.

Jordan and Morocco, which have not faced popular revolutions but whose kings have promised steps towards more democratic representation, joined the Deauville partnership after the initial members Egypt and Tunisia.

The finance ministers' meeting kicked off Friday as a G7 gathering but they were joined on Saturday by Russia's top finance official.

They differed sharply on what approach to take to slowing growth in the world economy that threatens to turn into another recession.

While the Americans were clearly plumping for stimulus, the Europeans were determined to railroad reform and austerity measures through parliaments.

The meeting came a day after US President Barack Obama unveiled a $447 billion jobs plan aimed at energising the world's largest economy.

Most European nations used stimulus spending to temper the effects of the recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis, but have now focused on cutting their deficits given their high debt loads.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that taking a stimulus approach in Europe now would "aggravate the problems instead of resolving them".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking in Paris, also said Europe was unlikely to follow the US example.

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