Ploumen to visit US to discuss development goals and TTIP

Later this week, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen will be heading to the United States to attend the World Bank spring meetings in Washington, DC. The main theme of her visit will be Financing for Development. She will also present her views on the TTIP to an American audience, discuss the concerns of the Netherlands and other countries about this trade agreement, and outline the improvements she and several of her EU colleagues would like to see.

World Bank spring meetings

Ms Ploumen will attend the World Bank spring meetings from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 April. This year, the meetings present an excellent opportunity to make progress on Financing for Development. Innovative means of financing are needed if sufficient funds are to be generated to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and are to be adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Their main aim is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. The meetings in Washington will pave the way for a follow-up conference on Financing for Development in Rotterdam at the end of May. In Washington, Ms Ploumen will urge a bigger role for the private sector in generating jobs and economic growth in developing countries.

Another important event in the run-up to the SDGs is the high-level climate ministerial meeting which will look at how the climate commitments, due to be finalised at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December, are to be funded. Ms Ploumen wants to see an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, since these lead to extra emissions in many countries. Here too, the Netherlands is calling for innovative financing, with more private sector involvement. A good example is the Dutch Risk Reduction Team, which deploys Dutch expertise to help countries before, during and after flooding, droughts and instances of water pollution.

During the spring meetings, Ms Ploumen will also take her seat on the World Bank’s prestigious Advisory Council on Gender and Development. In this position, she can contribute from the inside to a more effective and more strategic World Bank gender policy.

Other issues on the agenda of the spring meetings include recovery and reconstruction in Ebola-affected countries, the impact of the low oil prices on developing countries and the unrest in Africa and the Middle East.

Earth Day

On Saturday 18 April, Ms Ploumen has been invited by the singer Usher to attend Global Citizen Earth Day on the Mall in Washington. Together with Ban Ki-moon and hundreds of thousands of other people, she will call for attention to global poverty and climate change. Earth Day, with activities in many countries, has grown into a major event in the US in particular.

TTIP trade agreement

In her capacity as Minister for Foreign Trade, Ms Ploumen will give a speech on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Washington on Thursday 16 April. At the public policy and research organisation American Security Project, she will address an audience of American policymakers and diplomats, and representatives of think-tanks, NGOs and the media to set out her vision of the trade agreement between the EU and the United States. She will discuss her proposals for improving the arbitration of disputes between states and investors. She will also talk about the Jones Act  which makes it impossible for European dredging companies to operate in the US. And she will examine the need to protect standards on labour, food and the environment. On the following day, Ms Ploumen will have a meeting with Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative and TTIP negotiator.

United Nations

On Monday 20 April, Ms Ploumen will be at the United Nations in New York to attend a round of negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals. The agenda will again include Financing for Development. Besides promoting trade and investment, the Netherlands also wants developing countries to contribute to the goals by putting their public finances in order. The Netherlands helps them improve tax collection – through capacity building and measures to prevent tax avoidance – and strengthen debt management.

Access to water and sanitation will probably be one of the new development goals. For this reason, Ms Ploumen will talk in New York about financing water projects. One possibility is the establishment of a ‘Water Bank’ in 10 countries: an investment bank that helps countries to finance water supplies and sanitation in a sustainable way by raising money in local capital markets. At a later stage, irrigation and water management projects could also be eligible for financing. NWB Bank and BNG Bank perform the same function in the Netherlands.