The 44th summit of the Group of Seven (G7), which was held from June 8–9, 2018 in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, ended in complete disarray with US President Donald Trump blasting off host Canada and abruptly retracting his support for a joint statement, signed by every nation in the group.
The summit was overshadowed by differences over trade tariff disputes and calls to readmit Russia. US President Donald Trump left the meeting earlier as he had to head to Singapore for his meeting with the North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.
"G6 plus one"
• The G7 summit was dominated by disagreements, notably over trade.
• Trump's ‘America first’ policy has led to policy decisions that have angered even the closest of US allies.
• Trump infuriated Canada and European Union members of the G7 by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum and pulling out of a deal to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.
• On the eve of the summit, Trump slammed both Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron for their trade tariffs on the United States.
• In fact, hours after he left the summit, he refused to endorse the joint communiqué that was meant to be issued after the summit and slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling him as 'meek and mild'.
• With Trump's isolation from other allies, the G7 has been billed as a ‘G6 plus one’ with US on the outs for the first-ever time.
• The other G7 partners, who were stunned by Trump's reaction, however, pledged support to the communique.
• French President Emmanuel Macron, in fact, threatened to drop the United States from the group's final agreement altogether.
What are the tariffs?
• On June 1, the US imposed a 25 per cent tariff for steel and 10 per cent for aluminium on imports from the EU, Canada, and Mexico.
• Trump said the move would protect domestic producers that were vital to US security. Trump feels that the United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades.
• The European Union then announced tariffs on US goods ranging from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to bourbon.
• Canada and Mexico are planning to retaliate to the action with their own tariffs.
The five themes for this year's summit included:
• Inclusive economic growth
• Gender equality and women's empowerment
• World security
• Jobs of the future
• Climate change and oceans
Call to re-admit Russia?
On the first day of the summit on June 8, the United States called for the reinstatement of Russia.
Trump surprised all the leaders by suggesting Russia should be allowed to rejoin the elite group of leading industrialised nations to bring it back to the negotiating table.
Italy also requested a restoration of the G8 shortly after.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel clarified that Germany along with other members was against the idea.
In the statement, the group 7 nations had initially agreed on the need for ‘free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade’ and the importance of fighting protectionism.
Despite US President Trump’s withdrawal of support from the joint statement, the communiqué was released with the rest of the leaders agreeing to cooperate in the following areas:
Investing in Growth that Works for Everyone
The leaders resolved to work together to stimulate sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone and, in particular, those most at risk of being left behind.
They endorsed the Charlevoix Commitment on Equality and Economic Growth, which reinforces their commitment to eradicate poverty, advance gender equality, foster income equality, ensure better access to financial resources and create decent work and quality of life for all.
Preparing for Jobs of the Future
The leaders resolved to ensure that all workers have access to the skills and education necessary to adapt and prosper in the new world of work brought by innovation through emerging technologies.
Building a More Peaceful and Secure World
• The leaders noted that they share a responsibility to build a more peaceful and secure world, recognizing that respect for human rights, the rule of law and equality of opportunity are necessary for lasting security and to enable economic growth that works for everyone.
• They resolved to work together to counter terrorism and agreed that foreign terrorist fighters must be held accountable for their actions.
• They also resolved to address the use of the internet for terrorist purposes, including as a tool for recruitment, training, propaganda and financing and by working with partners such as the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
• They agreed to call on North Korea to completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles as well as its related programs and facilities.
• They also urged Russia to cease its destabilizing behaviour to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime.
Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
The leaders recognized that gender equality is fundamental for the fulfillment of human rights and is a social and economic imperative and that equal access to quality education is vital to achieve the empowerment and equal opportunity of girls and women, especially in developing contexts and countries struggling with conflict.
Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy
The leaders collectively affirmed their strong determination to achieve a clean environment, clean air, clean water and healthy soil.
They agreed to commit to ongoing action to strengthen their collective energy security and demonstrate leadership in ensuring that our energy systems continue to drive sustainable economic growth.
Canada, along with the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the World Bank, on June 9, 2018 announced an investment worth $3.8 billion CAD in education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations.
The move marks a fundamental shift towards improving access and reducing barriers to quality education around the world.
Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a top priority for Canada and its G7 Presidency and equal access to quality education and learning opportunities is essential to make gender equality a reality.
The investment will support global action to:
• Equip women and girls with the skills needed for the jobs of the future
• Improve training for teachers to provide better curriculum for women and girls
• Improve the quality of available data on women’s and girls’ education
• Promote greater coordination between humanitarian and development partners
• Support innovative education methods, especially for vulnerable and hard to reach groups, including refugees and displaced people
• Support developing countries in efforts to provide equal opportunities for girls to complete at least 12 years of quality education, from primary to secondary school