G7 ‘contributes’ to effort to build consensus on global issues such as Ukraine, China, climate change
HIROSHIMA, Japan — Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies joined their counterparts from other countries at their summit in Japan to try to expand the influence of the G7 and include voices from the so-called Global South.
From South America to South Asia, Ukraine to the South Pacific, guests represent a carefully curated selection of countries, including major emerging economies such as Australia, Brazil, Indonesia and India, as well as smaller ones such as the Comoros and Cook Islands.
Critics accuse the G7 of being an “elite club” of countries whose importance as global leaders is overshadowed by emerging powers. Bringing together the leaders of large but less wealthy democracies such as India and Brazil, Japan and the other G7 countries are seeking to strengthen their consensus on vital issues such as the war in Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness, debt and development issues, and climate change.
It’s kind of an odd selection, but there’s a method to the mix.
South Korea is a key ally of the United States and Japan, and has a huge stake in regional security and stability. Comoros, off the coast of East Africa, currently holds the presidency of the African Union – a vital link to a continent increasingly at the center of rivalries between Western democracies and China.
The Cook Islands is at the forefront of the Pacific Forum, another link with a strategically important region.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said another goal was to emphasize the importance of developing countries in the Global South in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As the only Asian member of the G7, Japan has a special role in this regard, said Yuichi Hosoya, professor of international politics at Keio University in Tokyo.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday, G7 leaders stressed their commitment to helping countries deal with debts that have risen to dangerous levels during the pandemic and war in Ukraine. They also reiterated their goal of pooling $600 billion in financing for projects aimed at developing infrastructure such as railways, clean energy and telecommunications in developing countries.
Kishida convened a meeting of G7 leaders and guests, which included Citigroup executives and other private partners, to discuss how more could be done – and to offer an alternative to investment from China “in a transparent and fair manner”.
“We’re just getting started. We need to do a lot together to close the infrastructure gap,” President Joe Biden told the crowd, pointing to a rail project in West Africa that he says will improve food security and supply chains.
“Let’s separate to show that democracies can deliver,” Biden said. “We have to deliver.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the effort could increase the amount of investment from “billions to trillions”.
“We want to make a better offer,” he said.
A key objective of a wider range of countries to attend the annual G7 summit is to facilitate an agreement ahead of the annual summit of the wider group of 20 major Indian economies.
“Important global problems cannot be solved” without other countries, Hosoya said. “Without support from the countries of the Global South, the G7 cannot effectively respond to the world’s most pressing problems unlike before.”
Indonesia hosted the G20 last year, and Brazil will host the meetings in 2024. Each has complicated relations with China and Russia, and the G7 is seeking support for its efforts to encourage Russia to end the war. India has repeatedly abstained from voting on UN resolutions against Moscow and increased its imports of Russian oil while calling for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Brazil and India belong to the so-called BRICS group of developing countries, which also includes China, Russia and South Africa. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recently visited China to strengthen ties with its largest trading market.
Vietnam is an increasingly important trading partner of the United States, Japan and other G7 countries, and one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Like Japan, it has territorial disputes with China.
“As the world moves towards division, one of the most important questions is figuring out how to bring the world back together and regain cooperation, and Japan is expected to play an important role in the G7 and so-called Global South countries, including the G20- at is,” said Akio Takahara, a professor at the University of Tokyo.
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