Good morning. As you hear this, I am in Genoa, Italy, at an important meeting of the world's most industrialized nations and Russia. Our focus this year is on the poor and struggling nations of the world
and what prosperous democracies can do to help them build a better future. This cause is the priority of the United States' foreign policy.
We're a wealthy nation with responsibilities to help others. It is also in our best interest to do so, because we benefit when we have strong and stable partners around the world who trade with us and help keep the peace.
Our discussions here in Europe are centered on some great goals. We want to spread the benefits of free trade as far and as wide as possible. Free trade is the only proven path out of poverty for developing nations. And when nations are shut off from the world, their people pay a steep price.
Despite trade's proven track record for lifting the lives of the poor, some still oppose it. They seek to deny the poor and developing countries their best hope for escaping poverty. Legitimate concerns about labor standards, economic dislocation, and the environment should be addressed and will be. But the developing countries have no need for protectionist policies that would condemn them to permanent poverty.
Yet, trade alone is not enough. Wealthy nations must also work in true partnership with developing countries to help them overcome obstacles to their development, such as illiteracy, disease, and unsustainable debt. This is compassionate conservatism at an international level, and it is the responsibility that comes with freedom and prosperity.
To advance literacy in the developing world, I proposed that the United States increase funding for our international education assistance programs by nearly 20 percent. And we will lead a new effort to improve basic education and teacher training in Africa. We've proposed that the World Bank and other development banks increase the share of their funding devoted to education and to tie this support more directly to clear measurable results. And we have proposed that up to half of all the funds provided by development banks to the poorest countries be provided as grants rather than loans for education, health, and human needs.
Today, many poor nations are benefiting from efforts to relieve them of the crippling burden of massive debt. But debt relief is ultimately a short-term fix. My proposal doesn't merely drop the debt; it helps stop the debt.
A final item of business at our Genoa summit is to launch a new global fund to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The U.S. contributes nearly a billion dollars a year annually to international efforts to combat AIDS and infectious diseases, and we stand ready to contribute more to the global fund as it demonstrates its success.
This is a time of great opportunity. What some call globalization is in fact the triumph of human liberty across national borders. We have today the chance to prove that freedom can work, not just in the new world or old world but in the whole world. Our great challenge is to include all the world's poor in an expanding circle of development throughout all the Americas and all of Asia and all of Africa. Such a world will enjoy greater freedom and prosperity and is far more likely to be at peace.
Thank you for listening.