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

24 November
AUKUS’ Reception in the Indo-Pacific
Shihoko Goto, Manjari Chatterjee Miller, and Susannah Patton discuss the implications of AUKUS for countries in the region.
AUKUS adds to growing array of minilateral arrangements in Asia today and has drawn a variety of reactions from across the region, ranging from wary to enthusiastic. What are the regional sensitivities around AUKUS? What does AUKUS mean for Australia’s broader regional role? How will AUKUS contribute to regional debates on a security architecture? In this webinar, recorded on November 17, 2021 three experts from the region discuss these and other questions.

22 November
How International Institutions Die
Ana Palacio
While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted international institutions’ shortcomings, it also made plain, yet again, that the biggest challenges today are global in nature. In this context, defending multilateral institutions is not a display of “nostalgia,” but an act of realism.
(Project Syndicate) The multilateral system passed the stress tests of Trump’s attacks – but just barely. Moreover, Trump’s departure from the White House did not bring the reprieve, let alone revival, for which some hoped. Instead, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, global trust in institutions has continued to decline.
…traditional governance frameworks have indeed fallen short. For example, as Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations , UN Climate Change Conferences have “failed to produce a model of global governance that can tame power politics, let alone forge a sense of shared destiny among countries.” The just-concluded COP26 in Glasgow lent further support to this conclusion. But while post-WWII international institutions are far from perfect, their collective record suggests that they remain the world’s best hope for coping with the complex challenges ahead. As Harvard University’s Joseph S. Nye recently , established institutions entrench “valuable patterns of behavior,” as they underpin a “regime of rules, norms, networks, and expectations that create social roles, which entail moral obligations”.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted international institutions’ shortcomings, it has also made plain, yet again, that the biggest challenges today are global in nature. In this context, defending multilateral institutions is hardly a display of “nostalgia.” Rather, it is an act of realism. Few would benefit from the unraveling of the existing order. The question is whether public trust can be restored before it is too late.

15 November
How Building a Multilateral System Fairer for All Could Revive American Leadership
(Policy November/December) What Western allies have described as the systemic challenges posed by China’s rise represent the most serious disturbance to the postwar international order since the Cold War. America’s efforts to address those challenges have met resistance from within its own borders, including from the most un-democratic president in history, Donald Trump. Longtime senior Canadian diplomat Jeremy Kinsman reflects on how the United States can, under Joe Biden, recalibrate its international role.

3 November
C. Uday Bhaskar: With China and the US, Asean is still between a rock and a hard place
After excluding Myanmar from its latest summit, Asean announced a strategic partnership with China and a similar deal with Australia, the US’ security partner
Clearly, the bloc continues to walk a tightrope amid increased regional tensions
(SCMP) … At the Asean-US summit, Biden said: “Our partnership is essential in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, which has been the foundation of our shared security and prosperity for many decades. And the United States strongly supports the Asean Outlook and the Indo-Pacific – on the Indo-Pacific and the rules-based regional order.”
This “free and open Indo-Pacific” has become a byword for the extended community led by the US and like-minded nations, but it is also a formulation being challenged by China. At the same time, four of Asean’s member states are in dispute with China over the South China Sea, and this regional discord could have global ramifications. As it is, the different statements released by the US and Asean only point to the intractable nature of the problem, and Asean’s contradictory approach.

Uniting the world to tackle climate change.
The UK hosts the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow 31 October – 12 November 2021.

30-31 October
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which began on Sunday, needs to secure more ambitious pledges to further cut emissions, lock in billions in climate finance, and finish the rules to implement the Paris Agreement with the unanimous consent of the nearly 200 countries that signed it.
Evidence of climate change is now indisputable — but the Group of 20 summit showed the world is still far from united on what to do about it.
(Bloomberg) Divisions between rich and poor states were on display during two days of negotiations that concluded in Rome today. While the leaders’ final statement sought to present a common front for the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow starting tomorrow, that came at the price of weak commitments on issues ranging from phasing out coal to targets for net-zero carbon emissions.
“We have different views over how soon we must start to act and how fast we must change course,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the summit’s host, told fellow leaders. “Emerging economies resent how much rich countries have polluted in the past.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Group of Seven industrialized nations of trying to bounce everyone else into adopting 2050 as a net-zero deadline. “It is not very polite to use this negotiating process the way the G-7 tried to,” he said.
None of this bodes well for a breakthrough at COP26, which already faces challenges from the absence of leaders of key emitters including China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, both of whom opted to stay at home and dialed in to the G-20.
G20 leaders endorse tax deal, pledge more vaccines for the poor
G20 leaders meet face-to-face after COVID-19 pandemic
Chinese, Russian presidents take part via video link
Historic minimum tax accord for big business endorsed
Leaders struggle to make ground on climate change
Biden, other G-20 world leaders formally endorse groundbreaking global corporate minimum tax
The new global minimum tax of 15 percent aims to reverse the decades-long decline in tax rates on corporations across the world
The plan was already endorsed by the finance ministers of each country, but its official approval by the heads of state puts added pressure on the difficult task of turning what remains an aspirational agreement into distinct legislation.
Nearly 140 countries representing more than 90 percent of total global economic output have endorsed the deal, but they each must implement the new standards in a process that could take some time.
Missing in action at G-20: global leadership
What’s a back-slapping president to do when the most important backs are missing from the room?
President Joe Biden arrived in Rome on Friday for a G-20 summit lacking a congressional climate mandate, and denied the chance to meet in-person with global rivals, such as China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Over the next two days, Biden must attempt to steer G-20 governments out of the Covid-19 pandemic and toward strong climate action, while helping to untangle global supply chains. His biggest barrier: unwieldy summit plenary sessions serving up a mix of in-person and video speeches.

Rome Summit
The G20 Heads of State and Government Summit will be held in Rome on October 30th and 31st 2021 , with the participation of the G20 Heads of State and Government, of their counterparts from invited countries, and of the representatives of some of the main international and regional organizations.
The Ministers of Economy and Finance traditionally also take part in the event. The Summit is the climax of the G20 process and the final stage, at Leaders’ level, of the intense work carried out within Ministerial Meetings, Working Groups and Engagement Groups throughout the year.

Primer: The G20 Rome Meeting: October 30-31, 2021
With Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in the chair, most leaders from the G20 will meet in Rome’s convention centre, ‘La Nuvola’, on Saturday and Sunday, October 30-31 to chart a path around the themes People, Planet, Prosperity designed to take the world “beyond the crisis” caused by the ongoing pandemic.  The G20 international forum represents 80 per cent of global economic output,  75 percent of global trade, and 60 percent of the world’s population. It has met since 1999 and since 2008 at the leaders’ level. Their annual summit is the climax of the annual G20 process involving ongoing ministerial meetingsworking groups and engagement groups.

28 October
The Rome G20: Multilateral Stress Test or Last Call at the Star Wars Cantina?
Colin Robertson
This weekend’s G20 summit in Rome is important on a number of counts: as part of the international community’s ongoing pandemic and economic recovery response; in setting the tone for the COP26 Glasgow climate summit that immediately follows it; as well as for the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial in Geneva at the end of November. More important, Rome is a stress test of multilateralism. Amid levels of geopolitical tension not seen in half a century, can diverse nations act on behalf of the common good?
It does not help that key players including China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Fumio Kishida and Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will not be there.
Nor that the extraordinary G20 summit on Afghanistan earlier this month failed to meet expectations. It could not even come up with a communiqué. Instead, thechair’s summary said safe passage should be given to those Afghans who wished to leave the country, that future humanitarian programs should focus on women and girls and the Taliban should contain militant groups operating out of the country. Neither Xi nor Putin dialed into the call.
Rome is about getting straight answers to two key questions.
On COVID, how soon will the world be sufficiently vaccinated? Vaccine production has increased but distribution remains a problem, especially in Africa. Will we learn the lessons from COVID to be prepared for the next pandemic?
In terms of economic recovery, can the G20 nations nurture and support economic growth while avoiding inflationary pressures? Can the developing nations cope with debt and the social pressures created by COVID? Importantly, will the rich help the poor?
With the Glasgow climate summit just days away, Rome will also give a sense of the answer to a third question. Will leaders make the required national commitments and will developed nations come up with the funding to mitigate climate change for developing nations?

The International Order Isn’t Ready for the Climate Crisis
The Case for a New Planetary Politics
By Stewart M. Patrick, James H. Binger Senior Fellow in Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations.
November/December 2021
It is time to take bold steps to overcome the disconnect between an international system divided into 195 independent countries, each operating according to its own imperatives, and a global calamity that cannot be resolved in a piecemeal fashion. It is time to govern the world as if the earth mattered. What the world needs is a paradigm shift in U.S. foreign policy and international relations—a shift that is rooted in ecological realism and that moves cooperation on shared environmental threats to center stage. Call this new worldview “planetary politics.” All governments, starting with Washington, must designate the survival of the biosphere as a core national interest and a central objective of national and international security—and organize and invest accordingly.
(Foreign Affairs) The planet is in the throes of an environmental emergency. Humanity’s continued addiction to fossil fuels and its voracious appetite for natural resources have led to runaway climate change, degraded vital ecosystems, and ushered in the slow death of the world’s oceans. Earth’s biosphere is breaking down. Our depredation of the planet has jeopardized our own survival.
Given these risks, it is shocking that the multilateral system has failed to respond more forcefully and has instead merely tinkered at the margins. Although the United States and the European Union have adopted measures to slow the pace of global warming—by setting more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets, for example—nothing guarantees that they will adhere to those pledges, and such steps do little to encourage decarbonization in China, India, and other major emitters. These efforts also fail to address other facets of the looming catastrophe, not least collapsing biodiversity.

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

Annual Meetings Wrap-up: despite urgent climate and development needs, geopolitics and deference to private finance rule the day
Summary

  • Doing Business scandal once again highlights that geopolitical wrangling is key driving force behind Bretton Woods Institutions’ (BWIs) governance structure and policy prescriptions
  • Support for ‘Wall Street Climate Consensus’ at World Bank deepens
  • BWIs silent on need for TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines, amidst warnings that unequal recovery from pandemic set to worsen
  • US supports ‘health and climate conditionality’ in proposed IMF Resilience and Sustainability Trust

IMFC communiqué analysis – Annual Meetings 2021
(Bretton Woods Project) The IMFC communiqué began by highlighting a central, and unsurprising, theme of this year’s Annual Meetings: that discrepancies in paths of economic recovery between countries were related to vaccination rates and resourcing available for the Covid-19 response.
While the IMFC underscored its commitment to “help advance toward the global goals of vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by mid-2022”, it was silent on the issue of the intellectual property rights waiver for Covid-19 vaccines, as requested by over 100 countries at the World Trade Organisation and as demanded by the People’s Vaccine alliance.
Legitimacy crisis? What legitimacy crisis?
While much ink had been spilled on the fate of the IMF’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and indeed the legitimacy of the Fund and Bank in light of the Doing Business Report scandal prior to Annual Meetings (see Observer Autumn 2021)…the Committee made only brief mention of the issue, welcoming “the Statement by the IMF Executive Board on Its Review on the Investigation of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 Report”.
Inflation, debt, and constrained fiscal space: The storm intensifies
Describing the policy environment as “complex”, the IMFC emphasised the need to “carefully calibrate our domestic policies” amid increasing discussions of inflationary pressures in high-income countries and the potential significant impact of a rise in interest rates in the US and Europe on the debt profile of middle and low-income countries.

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.

23 September
Does AUKUS Augment or Diminish the Quad?
AUKUS fits into a growing network of minilaterials crisscrossing the Indo-Pacific and rooted in shared strategic interests.
(The Diplomat) The newly created trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) has become instantly, probably understandably, controversial across the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines clearly adds to the heft of Australia in terms of its naval deterrent capabilities against China’s growing naval power, which has been on aggressive display for the last few years, though it will take some time for Australia to deploy those new capabilities. More importantly, it also adds to a further strengthening of other minilaterals in the Indo-Pacific including the Quad involving Australia, India, Japan, and the United States.
in reality, AUKUS is both relevant and important in the context of the Quad for a couple of reasons. The three leaders themselves, while announcing the trilateral security partnership, emphasized the importance of ongoing partnerships such as with ASEAN, the Quad, and other Indo-Pacific partners

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
Global civil society achieves significant victory as World Bank discontinues contentious Doing Business Report
(Bretton Woods Project) On 16 September, the World Bank Group announced that it will discontinue its Doing Business Report (DRB, see Observer Winter 2019). The end of the report is a significant victory for civil society, popular movements and academics who have long criticised the report on many fronts, including its methodology (see Observer Autumn 2020; Update Autumn 2013).  However, the celebration will be tempered for some by the Bank’s assertion in its announcement of the report’s discontinuation that it, “remains firmly committed to advancing the role of the private sector in development and providing support to governments to design the regulatory environment that supports this.”
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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