Multilateralism June 2021-

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Multilateralism 2018-June 2021
The Bretton Woods Project is a UK-based NGO
that challenges the World Bank and IMF

Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund Monday, October 11, through Sunday, October 17 (See more on Global economy)

12 October
G20 pledges help for Afghan humanitarian crisis at special summit
(Reuters) – The Group of 20 major economies is determined to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, even if it means having to coordinate efforts with the Taliban, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Tuesday after hosting an emergency summit.
“This was the first multilateral response to the Afghan crisis … multilateralism is coming back, with difficulty, but it is coming back,” Draghi said.
There was unanimous agreement among the participants about the need to alleviate the crisis in Afghanistan, where banks are running out of money, civil servants have not been paid and food prices have soared, leaving millions at risk of severe hunger.
Much of the aid effort will be channelled through the United Nations, but there will also be direct country-to-country assistance, despite a refusal by most states to officially recognise the hardline Taliban government.

8 October
Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate
The agreement is the culmination of years of fraught negotiations that were revived this year after President Biden took office and renewed the United States’ commitment to multilateralism..

24 September
‘Quad’ leaders meet at White House as China looks warily on
(Reuters) – Leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia presented a united front on Friday at their first summit and stressed the need for a free and open Indo-Pacific region amid shared concerns about China.
The two-hour meeting at the White House of the Quad, as the grouping of the four major democracies is called, will be watched closely in Beijing, which criticized the group as “doomed to fail.”
While China was not mentioned in the public remarks by the four leaders, Beijing was clearly top of mind.
The Quad is expected to announce several new agreements, including one to bolster supply chain security for semiconductors and to combat illegal fishing and boost maritime domain awareness, a senior U.S. official said, referring to initiatives prompted by concerns about China. The group was also expected to roll out a 5G partnership and plans for monitoring climate change.
The Quad leaders also voiced support for small island states, especially those in the Pacific, in order to enhance their economic and environmental resilience.
Additionally, they urged North Korea to engage in diplomacy over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which Pyongyang has refused to do unless international sanctions are dropped

21 September
The UN General Assembly is in session. Climate change, COVID-19 and security are set to dominate discussion during the annual gathering, which has a hybrid format after being forced almost entirely online last year. President Biden promises an end to ‘relentless war’ and start of ‘relentless diplomacy’;

22 September
China Says It Won’t Build New Coal Plants Abroad. What Does That Mean?
Beijing is the undisputed king of coal, but the announcement at the United Nations General Assembly this week was cautiously welcomed by climate experts.
(NYT) Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, said on Tuesday that his country would stop building coal-burning power plants overseas, a major shift by the world’s second-biggest economy to move away from its support of the fossil fuel.

18 September
Quad alliance countries ‘to focus on microchip supply chains’
The Quad group of countries will reportedly agree to take steps to build secure semiconductor supply chains
(SBS Australia) Leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia will agree to take steps to build secure semiconductor supply chains when they meet in the US next week, the Nikkei business daily says, citing a draft of the joint statement.
US President Joe Biden will host a first in-person summit of leaders of the “Quad” countries, which have sought to boost co-operation to push back against China’s growing assertiveness.
The draft says that in order to create robust supply chains, the four countries will ascertain their semiconductor supply capacities and identify vulnerability, the Nikkei said, without unveiling how it had obtained the document.

13 September
Biden to host leaders of Australia, India, Japan at White House next week
(Reuters) U.S. President Joe Biden will host a first in-person summit of leaders of the “Quad” countries – Australia, India, Japan and the United States – which have sought to boost co-operation to push back against China’s growing assertiveness.
The World Needs a Pandemic Plan B
We must prepare to deal with future health crises in a world beset by nationalism and rivalry.
By Thomas Wright
(The Atlantic) There is never a good time for a pandemic, but the coronavirus may have hit the world at the worst possible moment. In the decade before the virus, China had grown more dictatorial and assertive; populist nationalists held power in the United States, India, and Brazil; geopolitical tensions were heightened, not just between Beijing and Washington but within the West itself; and the very notion of objective truth was being called into question.
There would be no muddling through this pandemic. Global cooperation broke down almost entirely, partly because many leaders were hardly on speaking terms. The World Health Organization buckled under pressure from China and became a punching bag for the United States. The couple of bright spots were few and far between.
The pandemic is not yet over and already a number of expert reports are calling for the world to come together, reform the WHO, and prepare for the next pandemic. The past 18 months have raised an unsettling yet vital question: How do we function when we’re broken? The true lesson of 2020 is that we need a plan to deal with enormous global problems in moments of high tension.

2 September
The war in Afghanistan has shaped an entire generation in the West
Constanze Stelzenmüller
(Brookings) The withdrawal of Western forces ended with the departure of the last U.S. plane late on Monday. As allied troops evacuated more than 100,000 Afghans, armies of diplomats, humanitarian aid, and development agency staff worked feverishly in Kabul and far away in national capitals to support the evacuation effort.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the degree to which civil society got involved. In the U.S., a coalition of veterans’ organizations has rushed to help. Similar private networks have sprung into action in other countries.
Were there hitches and public hysteria, institutions, and people working at cross-purposes? All of that. The evacuation also laid bare the abject failure of the multilateralism that Europeans so pride themselves on — of the U.N., the G-7, the EU, and NATO — after U.S. President Joe Biden’s essentially unilateral decision to withdraw.
It is not just Afghanistan that has changed; it has changed us in the West, too. The U.S. defense department estimates that 832,000 American soldiers have served in Afghanistan. German experts I asked put the number at 150,000 for their country. At its peak, NATO’s stabilization mission comprised 130,000 troops from 50 countries. Add to that untold numbers of diplomats, aid workers, and journalists. More than any other conflict since the end of the Cold War, this mission has shaped the working lives and political identities of an entire generation in the West.

30 August
Why the Quad Needs to Improve Its Economic Game
Trade, investment, and supply chain security need to be high on the agenda of the four-nation grouping.
By Mukesh Aghi
(The Diplomat) Since its inception in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as the “Quad,” has had a sense of nebulousness about it. But while the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked insurmountable havoc on the global economy and has taken close to 5 million lives globally, it has perhaps inadvertently galvanized the momentum around the Quad, accentuating its global presence.
In November 2020, for the first time in nearly a decade, the navies of the four Quad nations participated in a joint naval exercise. And earlier this year, the Quad received fresh impetus on two fronts. There was a high-profile delegation of foreign ministers in February, which was furthered bolstered by the virtual meeting in March of the respective heads of government: Prime Ministers Suga Yoshihide, Scott Morrison, and Narendra Modi, along with U.S. President Joe Biden. Recently in Washington, top envoys of India, Japan and Australia and Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell had a Quad ambassadorial meeting. Within his first hundred days in office, Biden has prioritized the Quad, signaling his administration’s foreign policy priorities.

24 August
G-7 leaders can’t sway Biden to delay Afghanistan withdrawal
(AP) — Sharply divided leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies clashed Tuesday over U.S. President Joe Biden’s insistence on withdrawing from Afghanistan by August 31 in the face of the Taliban takeover of the country.
In a partial show of unity, G7 leaders agreed on conditions for recognizing and dealing with a future Taliban-led Afghan government, but there was palpable disappointment Biden could not be persuaded to extend the U.S. operation at the Kabul airport to ensure that tens of thousands of Americans, Europeans, other third-country nationals and all at-risk Afghans can be evacuated.
The virtual meeting of the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. served not only as a bookend to the West’s 20-year involvement in Afghanistan that began as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but also a resigned acknowledgment from European powers that the U.S. calls the shots.
Biden pours salt into wounds of relations with Europe at G7 meeting
(The Guardian) In the end it took only seven minutes for Joe Biden to pour salt into the wounds of his fractured relationship with European leaders, telling them firmly on a video call that he would not extend the 31 August deadline for US troops to stay in Kabul, as he had been asked by the French, Italians and most of all the British. The rebuff follows Biden’s earlier decision in July to insist on the August deadline previously set in 2020 by Donald Trump for the withdrawal, a decision the US president relayed to his EU colleagues as a fait accompli.
For Europe the episode has been a rude awakening, and a moment of sober reassessment. Only on 25 March Charles Michel had afforded Biden the chance to address a meeting of the European Council, the first foreign leader given the honour since Barack Obama 11 years earlier. Biden after all had said his foreign policy would only be as strong as his system of alliances, the true shield of the republic, and Europe would be at the heart of that system.
European hopes that Biden might acknowledge the damage done by his handling of the Afghan withdrawal by at least accepting the US troops may stay a day or two beyond the 31 August deadline have for the moment been dashed.
The Taliban insistence in a direct meeting on Monday with the CIA director and master of the backchannel, William Burns, that the deadline had to be honoured meant from the US perspective the risk of a military confrontation, or a terrorist suicide bombing by Islamic State, at the airport was too great.

23 August
Western leaders mull Afghanistan options as thousands crowd violent Kabul airport
Discussions among Western leaders will explore what consequences recent developments in Afghanistan may have for security and migration of the 27-nation European Union, a spokesman for the Slovenian EU presidency said on Monday.
Experts will start looking into the possible effects on migration, assistance to key neighbouring countries as well as security-related issues on Tuesday, followed by a meeting of EU ambassadors on Thursday.
G-7 grapples with Afghanistan, an afterthought not long ago
(AP) — Two months ago, the leaders of the world’s seven major industrialized democracies met at the height of summer on England’s southeast coast. It was a happy occasion: the first in-person summit of the Group of Seven nations in two years due to the coronavirus pandemic and the welcomed appearance of President Joe Biden and his “America is back” message on matters ranging from comity to COVID-19 to climate change.
The leaders put Afghanistan as number 57 out of 70 points in their final 25-page communique -– behind Ukraine, Belarus and Ethiopia. Afghanistan didn’t even feature in the one-and-a-half page summary of the document. NATO had already signed off on the U.S. withdrawal and all that appeared to be left was the completion of an orderly withdrawal and hopes for a peace deal between the Afghan government and Taliban.
On Tuesday, those same seven leaders will meet again in virtual format confronted by a resurgence in the pandemic, more dire news on climate change and, most immediately and perhaps importantly, Afghanistan. The country’s burgeoning refugee crisis, the collapse of its government and fears of a resurgence in Afghan-based terrorism have left the G-7 allies scrambling and threaten the unity of the bloc.

The Room Where it Happens: A Policy Q&A with Veteran G7 Sherpa Sen. Peter Boehm
As the world recovers from the health, economic and broader societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, G7 leaders will be gathering in Cornwall, UK, June 11-13. During his career as a senior diplomat, Senator Peter Boehm, who now chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, served as Canada’s Sherpa for six G7s, including the G7 Charlevoix in 2018. Policy Associate Editor Lisa Van Dusen conducted a Q&A with Senator Boehm by email ahead of the Cornwall G7.

12 August
Apocalypse or Cooperation?
Jayati Ghosh
The perfect storm of COVID-19 and climate change, and the resulting economic damage, will most likely trigger much more social and political instability. Although substantially increased international cooperation can still avert this nightmarish scenario, the current state of global politics provides few grounds for optimism.
(Project Syndicate) Keeping future global warming to a manageable level (even if above the 2015 Paris climate agreement goal of 1.5°C) will require a massive effort, involving sharp economic-policy reversals in every country. Major changes in the global legal and economic architecture will be essential. For its part, the pandemic has devastated employment and livelihoods, pushing hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the developing world, into poverty and hunger. The International Labour Organization’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2021 shows the extent of the damage in grinding detail. In 2020, the pandemic caused the loss of nearly 9% of total global working hours, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. This trend has continued in 2021, with working-hour losses equivalent to 140 million full-time jobs in the first quarter and 127 million jobs in the second quarter.

6 August
Why the Quad Alarms China
Its Success Poses a Major Threat to Beijing’s Ambitions
(The Diplomat) The March meeting of the Quad’s leaders confirmed growing Chinese concerns about the grouping’s significance. By convening the Quad’s top leaders for the first time (albeit virtually) so early in his administration, U.S. President Joe Biden signaled that the group would be central to his strategy in the Indo-Pacific.

10 July
Global Tax Overhaul Gains Steam as G20 Backs New Levies
The approach marks a reversal of years of economic policies that embraced low taxes as a way for countries to attract investment and fuel growth.
(NYT) Global leaders on Saturday agreed to move ahead with what would be the most significant overhaul of the international tax system in decades, with finance ministers from the world’s 20 largest economies backing a proposal that would crack down on tax havens and impose new levies on large, profitable multinational companies.
If enacted, the plan could reshape the global economy, altering where corporations choose to operate, who gets to tax them and the incentives that nations offer to lure investment. But major details remain to be worked out ahead of an October deadline to finalize the agreement and resistance is mounting from businesses, which could soon face higher tax bills, as well as from small, but pivotal, low-tax countries such as Ireland, which would see their economic models turned upside down.
See also  Joseph E. Stiglitz: The Global Tax Devil Is in the Details
(Project Syndicate) The current average official rate is considerably higher. It is thus possible, even likely, that the global minimum will become the maximum rate. An initiative that began as an attempt to force multinationals to contribute their fair share of taxes could yield very limited additional revenue, much lower than the $240 billion underpaid annually. And some estimates suggest that developing countries and emerging markets would also see a small fraction of this revenue.Preventing this outcome depends not just on avoiding a downward global convergence, but also on ensuring a broad and comprehensive definition of corporate profits, such as one that limits deduction for expenses relating to capital expenditures plus interest plus pre-entry losses plus… It would probably be best to agree on standard accounting so that new tax-avoidance techniques do not replace the old ones.
Particularly problematic in the proposals advanced by the OECD is Pillar One, intended to address taxing rights, and applying only to the very largest global firms. The old system of transfer pricing was clearly not up to the challenges of twenty-first-century globalization; multinationals had learned how to manipulate the system to record profits in low-tax jurisdictions. That’s why the United States has adopted an approach whereby profits are allocated among the states by a formula that accounts for sales, employment, and capital.

7 July
Transnational governance of natural resources for the 21st century
Rabah Arezki
(Brookings) Today’s scramble for natural resources by major powers is far from new. It stems from a long-standing and fundamental asymmetry between advanced and less-advanced economies—not only in terms of access to and demand for natural resources, but in terms of advances in technology, military might, and state and private sector capabilities in general.
… Several international initiatives have focused mainly on transparency. They include the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and the Natural Resource Charter. A number of NGOs have been very active in the space. Legislation in the United States and the European Union (EU) strive to hold accountable their multinational corporations by mandating that those companies disclose their payments in countries in which they operate. It is more difficult to hold state-owned enterprises accountable because of a lack of transparency and a complex web of interests and cross-subsidies. The development of environment, social, and corporate governance norms (ESG)—with roots in the socially responsible investing movement that began in the 1970s—are means by which investors and others can gauge how responsibly a corporation behaves environmentally. But it is unclear whether ESG assessments are sufficient to force firms to internalize the complex sets of externalities at different levels required to achieve sustainable behavior. It is also unclear whether and how these norms could be enforced.

15 June
Summit Season and the Return of Multilateralism (podcast)
Jeremy Kinsman and Ambassador Thomas Pickering, U.S. Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations in New York under President George H.W. Bush, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President Bill Clinton. He holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. Hosted by Colin Robertson, former diplomat, Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
The International Order Didn’t Fail the Pandemic Alone
The United States and China Are Its Crucial Pillars
By Thomas R. Pickering and Atman M. Trivedi
(Foreign Affairs) The institutional and political vulnerabilities that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has exposed in multilateral organizations are real. But to blame such vulnerabilities on a lack of effort or expertise in the institutions themselves mistakes the symptom for the cause. At the heart of the problem is the failure of the world’s leading powers, starting with the United States and China, to invest in and empower the multilateral system. Washington’s sins of omission and Beijing’s sins of commission have conspired to sideline international institutions, helping frustrate their common goal of ending the pandemic. (14 May, 2020)

15 June
Quoting Irish poet, Biden ends EU trade war in renewal of transatlantic ties
(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden ended one front in a Trump-era trade war when he met European Union leaders on Tuesday by agreeing a truce in a transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies that had dragged on for 17 years.
The EU also lifted its tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminium for six months in the hope that the United States will do the same for Europe.

14 June
NATO takes tough line on China at first summit with Biden
(Reuters) – NATO leaders warned on Monday that China presents “systemic challenges,” taking a forceful stance towards Beijing in a communique at Joe Biden’s first summit with an alliance that Donald Trump openly disparaged.
The new U.S. president has urged his fellow NATO leaders to stand up to China’s authoritarianism and growing military might, a change of focus for an alliance created to defend Europe from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The language in the summit’s final communiqué, which will set the path for alliance policy, came a day after the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations issued a statement on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation.
Biden also told European allies that the alliance’s mutual defense pact was a “sacred obligation” for the United States
Colin Robertson: Canadian Primer to the NATO Summit in Brussels June 14, 2021
(CGAI) Presidents and prime ministers of the thirty NATO nations will meet in Brussels on Monday, June 14. The agenda, for this their 29th summit since the Alliance was formed in 1949, will discuss safeguarding the rules-based order in the face of the rising challenge from China and Russia. NATO operations in Afghanistan and Iraq will also be discussed.

11-13 June
G7 Leaders Offer United Front as Summit Ends, but Cracks Are Clear
Biden and other Western leaders had tough words for Russia and China after wrapping up a meeting in England, but they had trouble finding common ground on some big issues.
(NYT) President Biden and fellow Western leaders issued a confrontational declaration about Russian and Chinese government behavior on Sunday, castigating Beijing over its internal repression, vowing to investigate the pandemic’s origins, and excoriating Moscow for using nerve agents and cyberweapons.
Concluding the first in-person summit meeting since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the leaders tried to present a unified front against a range of threats. But they disagreed about crucial issues, from timelines for halting the burning of coal to committing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to challenge Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, China’s overseas investment and lending push.
Biden urges G-7 leaders to call out and compete with China
(AP) — Leaders of the world’s largest economies unveiled an infrastructure plan Saturday for the developing world to compete with China’s global initiatives, but there was no immediate consensus on how forcefully to call out Beijing over human rights abuses.
Citing China for its forced labor practices is part of President Joe Biden’s campaign to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing. But while they agreed to work toward competing against China, there was less unity on how adversarial a public position the group should take.
Angela Merkel, Anchor of European Stability, Stays Focused at Her Final G7
The German chancellor, known for her commitment to compromise, is eager to revive deal-making on multilateral policy, joining the world’s top democratic leaders one last time. Can she be replaced?
European Union, U.K. Brexit spat over Northern Ireland clouds G7 summit
(AP via Global) The two sides are locked in an escalating diplomatic feud over Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the bloc. The EU is angry at British delay in implementing new checks on some goods coming into Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. required under the terms of Britain’s divorce from the bloc. Britain says the checks are imposing a big burden on businesses and destabilizing Northern Ireland’s hard-won peace.
G-7 pledge to share, but jostle for ground in the sandbox
Recovery from the pandemic was set to dominate their discussions, and members of the wealthy democracies club committed to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries. That includes a pledge from U.S. President Joe Biden to share 500 million doses, and a promise from Johnson for another 100 million shots.
G7 summit: Biden, Johnson to reaffirm bond but tensions simmer
On the eve of the G7 summit, the US leader is expected to warn his UK counterpart over Brexit-related frictions in Northern Ireland.
(Al Jazeera) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and United States President Joe Biden are expected to reaffirm the relationship between their two countries on the eve of the G7 summit, despite warnings from Washington over simmering Brexit tensions.

7 June
The G7 Cornwall: Back to Normal, with Key Upgrades
Colin Robertson
(Policy) This coming weekend, the leaders of the advanced economies and leading democracies will meet at the Carbis Bay Hotel in a tiny Cornish seaside village in Britain’s most southerly county. While the agenda has evolved annually since its creation in 1975 (Canada joined in 1976) in the wake of the oil shock crisis, the G7 leaders have had two overriding priorities: strengthening the global economy and bolstering the rules-based order.
For this meeting, host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also invited the leaders of, India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa to Carbis Bay. Together, the 11 leaders represent almost two-thirds of the people living in democracies around the world.
The leaders meet against a challenging backdrop. In a signed statement released June 3rd and titled Our Planet, Our Future: An Urgent Call to Action to the G7, 126 Nobel laureates called on the leaders to commit to “a new relationship with the planet” recognizing that this decade will be “decisive” in determining whether the Earth remains habitable.
As host, PM Johnson has set a high bar, declaring that “as the most prominent grouping of democratic countries, the G7 has long been the catalyst for decisive international action to tackle the greatest challenges we face.” Johnson wants to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic by:
leading the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening our resilience against future pandemics; promoting our future prosperity by championing free and fair trade; tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; championing our shared values. A primer to the 2021 Summit

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