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Press Conference with Heads of Government after Venice G7 Summit June 23, 1080

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Margaret Thatcher proposes that oil-producing countries also be involved in giving aid to poorer countries. Due to the increasing price of oil, it is the poorer countries that get affected the most despite the aid western countries give them.


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Mr. Chairman, colleagues, ladies and gentleman. You've heard what the other Heads of State and Government have said. May I just add the way I see it?

I would like really to make four points.

The first one is this. If you look back to Tokyo last year and think what has happened then you will see that the events since that time illustrate very vividly the kind of problems that we have to tackle. Many of you who were with us at Tokyo will remember that we were then discussing the oil problem for example. Then the price of a barrel of oil was $20, now it's $30 a barrel. We were worried then - we're much, much more worried now. That illustrates one of the continuing problems which we've had to tackle. Another one has been the taking of hostages in Iran, a new one which came upon us suddenly but we are doing all we can to assist President Carter to secure their release. So one continuing problem, one new one and the third one, which was also discussed, was the invasion of Afghanistan which many of us call a continuing manifestation of an old problem and the fundamental division between East/West and their political philosophies. I mention these things as my first point I think to illustrate that in politics we are constantly having to deal both with short-term and long-term problems. But we try to deal with the short-term ones in a way that will contribute to the solution of the longer-term problems and we discussed them all at this conference.

The second point will take up one of the first ones. How are we going to continue to deal with the oil problem? You heard my colleagues give details of some of the things we have agreed. Really they all have this in common: from whatever countries we come we are trying to reduce our dependence on oil and thereby make ourselves less vulnerable to the oil-producing countries being able suddenly to reduce their production and leave both our economies and our politics highly vulnerable. So everything we are doing is trying to reduce the dependence of our countries on oil and leave us less vulnerable to the acts of others. You will find them all detailed, but by and large they boil down to that simple proposition. That means, of course, that we have to find other sources of energy. It means that in order to find the resources for developing other sources of energy, we shall have to let the price rise of the energy we are using now and we shall have to have massive investment into alternative supplies, such as nuclear among other things and such as opening up new coal seams.

Now the third point I want to make is this. If we in the Western industrialised countries have found it difficult to rise to the problems of the increasing price of oil, and if it has reduced our ability to help others, then the poorer countries have had the worst problem of the lot. We talk about recycling, we talk about aid. The fact is that some of the poorer countries just plain can't afford the oil they are having to import now. And if you look at the relationship of aid to the increasing prices of oil that they've had put upon them you'll find the astonishing thing is that the aid that we all give them together in the whole of the Western world is not sufficient to match the increasing price of oil since 1978. So everything we can do in aid isn't enough to meet their very real problems. And that is why I think instead of just talking about North/South dialogue, I think most of us are very conscious that as well as involving the countries of the North in solving the problems of the countries of the South, we also have to involve the oil rich countries, the oil-producing countries, because we really feel that it's not only a question of recycling money, it's also a question of giving new sources of aid to those poor countries.

And the fourth point, Mr. Chairman, is this. We have great ambitions, we have great wishes to help others but we're only able to do so if each of us puts our own economies in order. For many of us have a very considerable inflation problem. Indeed I think over the past two years inflation has been a very much larger part of the problems - economic problems - of Western societies. Indeed, some two years ago the average of oeCD inflation was 8 per cent, now it's some 14 per cent. And we're not going to be able to help other countries, let alone ourselves, as much as we would wish, unless we tackle that problem. So you will find quite a considerable portion of the Communique taken up with the old recipes for tackling inflation. They are the old ones, there aren't any new ones. It's just sometimes the old ones haven't been tried for long enough to produce sound money and a basis for stable growth, except perhaps in the economy of Germany which we all admire for its tenacity in holding to sound financial principles. So we recognise that we will have to do that if we are really to be in a position to help others.

Mr. Chairman, I think that our success in tackling the problems in the coming year will depend upon whether, in our own countries, we can raise our economic efficiency sufficiently to match the level of our international ideals. That will be the test that we have to undergo in the coming year and doubtless you will be keeping us up to it as to how well we are doing. I would like to join my colleagues in saying thank you. We've had a wonderful Chairman, who has presided over our proceedings with very, very great ability. We've been visitors in a most beautiful City and we've had a valuable and very rewarding conference. We've all of us talked about difficulties. I wouldn't like the message to go out of this conference just to be one of difficulties and problems. I think the result is that we believe the Western free societies can cope with those difficulties and that we'll all be back next year, perhaps with a new set of problems, perhaps with the same, but we believe we'll have made some progress in meeting them and I'm sure we're all meet together, I believe next year in Canada. We look forward to it.

Courtesy of Margaret Thatcher Foundation

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Press Conference with Heads of Government after Venice G7 Summit- June 23, 1080

- Margaret Thatcher
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