The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US projects cause concern at summit

Johannesburg, Aug. 29 (Reuters): The United States showcased public-private partnerships today at the Earth Summit, promoting a range of projects meant to combat poverty but which critics say often do more for big business than the poor.

Delegates at the 10-day meeting in Johannesburg, meanwhile, were deadlocked on tough issues including poor nations’ calls for rich countries to phase out farm subsidies even though 95 per cent of a 77-page draft plan of action had been agreed.

US President George Bush, who has chosen not to join about 100 other world leaders for the summit finale early next week, is a leading proponent of partnerships, also favoured by other rich nations from the European Union to Japan.

Environmentalists say partnerships, meant to involve local communities, companies and other groups, may let business cash in on providing essential services like water or electricity, while letting governments shirk their responsibilities.

Among key demands from developing countries, which shows little sign of being heeded, is a stronger commitment to an end to the subsidies paid to Western farmers that help keep out otherwise cheaper imports from the Third World.

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