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G-7 summit in Japan: key issues leaders should discuss at their meeting


In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military activities in Ukraine continue as China actively increases its economic clout and strategic power in the aftermath of the pandemic.

As the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries, comprising the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada gather, there are key areas that require their attention and coordinated efforts at this meeting . .

Send a message to the Global South

One of the biggest challenges for the G-7 is recruiting countries outside the group, especially those in what is known as the Global South (or what the G-7 calls “middle countries”) – in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America. America and elsewhere in Asia.

In an increasingly multipolar world, these countries may become attached to the greater power in their own neighborhood, or to China, rather than to the US and its allies. Japan has invited leaders from countries such as Vietnam, India, Brazil and the African Union to the sidelines of the summit.

Numerous countries have shown reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia over concerns about the impact on their own economies, avoiding involvement in wider conflicts.

Some countries express dissatisfaction with what they see as years of neglect by the United States and criticize the United States’ tendency to lecture on values ​​and human rights while addressing its own internal challenges.

From the perspective of the Global South, the G-7 is urged to go beyond mere recognition and demonstrate concrete actions. These countries are looking for clear indications for debt relief and other tangible economic measures.

Investigate loopholes in sanctions against Russia

The consequences imposed on Russia in response to its military incursion into Ukraine are unparalleled in terms of their extensive scope and profound impact. Despite this, the Russian economy has held up, albeit to a lesser extent.

Moscow continues to engage in oil and gas exports, using creative strategies to circumvent the imposed sanctions.

Leaders of the G-7 countries will meet in Japan with their counterparts from the European Union to explore possible measures to close the existing loopholes. One of the proposals under consideration is the introduction of an almost complete embargo on exports to Russia, although this specific proposal faces significant obstacles.

Conversely, there will be a united demonstration of solidarity and support for Ukraine, which is preparing for a counter-offensive.

Send a message to China

G-7 leaders grapple with how to deal with China. They risk getting caught up in muddled verbiage (the “de-risking” approach without “decoupling” from China). But the European position appears to be hardening, even as the US softens some of its rhetoric, allowing them to meet in the middle.

The complex reality is that, despite debates about diversifying supply chains, repatriating industries and achieving technology self-sufficiency, the G-7 countries remain interconnected and to some extent dependent on the world’s second-largest economy. world .

Therefore, it is a hugely complex challenge to compartmentalize various aspects, such as imposing punitive measures on China for alleged “economic coercion”, while at the same time cooperating with China on global health and environmental issues.

Stop nuclear weapons

Hiroshima’s prime location is a powerful reminder that Japan was bombarded twice with nuclear weapons by the US in the closing days of World War II. Japan has since adopted a pacifist constitution and adopted a strong anti-nuclear stance, warning the world of complacency that nuclear weapons can never be used in conflict again.

Now the architecture around nuclear arsenals monitoring is fraying, with Russia suspending its involvement in the New Start nuclear weapons treaty with the US, the latest deal limiting their strategic stockpiles.

In the field of international relations, Kim Jong-un’s continued displays of military aggression and nuclear aspirations remain a cause for concern, especially in the vicinity of Japan.

In response to the North Korean buildup, South Korea has intermittently expressed consideration of purchasing nuclear weapons as a means to safeguard its own interests.

In light of these developments, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has invited his South Korean counterpart to attend the G-7 summit, where leaders are likely to visit the Hiroshima Peace Park, home to a memorial in honor of of the victims. of the Korean nuclear bombs.

Minimize side activities

For the hosts, as always, the challenge will be to prevent the meeting from being derailed by whatever crisis the jour is burning elsewhere. This time there are a number of things that can coincide.

US President Joe Biden comes to the G-7 dogged by a domestic debt ceiling crisis. According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, her department is only weeks away from running out of money, and Biden is cutting short his trip to Asia to return home right after the summit. The 80-year-old Biden is also under pressure to show he is fit and ready to lead the Democrats through a grueling re-election campaign. At last year’s G-7 in Germany, he skipped parts of the official program, a decision that raised some eyebrows.

The leaders of France and Italy come to Hiroshima after a period of conflict between their governments. Sniping between Rome and Paris isn’t new, and they’re largely on the same page on major global issues. But we are in a tailspin after France’s interior minister recently labeled Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s team as a “far-right government” that is “incapable of solving Italy’s migration problems.” It will be interesting to see if Meloni meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Hiroshima to cover up the cracks.

Turkey — a key NATO member and a growing middle power in the Middle East — faces a second round on May 28, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outperforming forecasts in the first round. G-7 leaders will be watching the campaign closely given the outcome of matters involving Russia, the grain deal with Ukraine and the dynamics in the Middle East as a whole.

The meeting coincides with a meeting of Arab League leaders, where Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad may appear after his reassignment more than a decade after cracking down on opponents during the Arab Spring uprisings. It would be a symbolic moment — despite all the years of criticism from the US and others of its brutality in Syria (then-President Barack Obama once demanded that Assad leave), the Syrian leader is all the way back at the table.

Challenges like AI, crypto

The leaders are expected to hold discussions on several key issues such as the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the need for regulatory action on cryptocurrencies.

In addition, with several regions of the world grappling with the escalation of temperatures and dangerous heat waves, the G-7 will need to address the urgent need for coordinated responses to this escalating global threat.

The implications of these environmental challenges extend far beyond health concerns and include fiscal, economic and security issues that require immediate attention and collaborative strategies.

(With Bloomberg entries)

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.