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Let's hope the G7 Summit does not descend into chaos

By Elizabeth Morgan

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

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Caricom will have a presence this weekend at the outreach session of the 44th G7 Summit hosted by Canada to address issues of importance to the region. Caricom will be represented by Haiti, as current chair, and Jamaica, as incoming chair. The invitation was issued to Caricom by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Caricom/Canada meeting held in the margins of the Summit of the Americas in Peru in April. Caricom foreign ministers welcomed the invitation at their meeting in The Bahamas in May.

The G7 Summit will be held in Charlevoix, Quebec, June 8-9, 2018. The members of the G7 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA, and the European Union. These are considered the world's major industrialised countries. You will note that the EU is represented as a bloc along with four of its current members. In past years, the group included Russia, which made it the G8. Since 2014, however, Russia has been excluded. As a note, China is not a member of the G7, as it is designated a developing country.

Canada, as G7 president, has identified five themes which it intends to promote:

1. investing in growth that works for everyone;

2. preparing for jobs of the future;

3. advancing gender equality and women's empowerment;

4. working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy; and

5. building a more peaceful and secure world.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Haiti and Jamaica, with other invitees, will participate in the outreach session on oceans (theme 4) scheduled to be held on June 9. It is the tradition for the president/host to invite an additional group of countries, usually developing countries, to attend the summit. This year Canada has invited 12 additional countries, a mixed group, including the two Caricom countries, as well as organisations — the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Bank. The session on oceans should be addressing the implementation of Goal 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the outcomes of the related UN Conference on Oceans, held in June 2017, which examined the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. Recall that Jamaica is host to the UN Seabed Authority and that Caricom countries are members of the small island developing states (SIDS) group. A UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is also to be held in July.

As G7 host, Canada must be on tenterhooks. The principal guests at this summit could be difficult to manage and the atmosphere could be quite strained. A specific guest could make this the gathering from which some could be seeking an early departure. Issues contributing to a sombre atmosphere are expected to be the state of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations; the application of tariffs on aluminium and steel; the pending US/Korea Summit; climate change; and the Iran nuclear agreement. Not to mention that each guest is toting a knapsack full of their own problems, eg Brexit.

Let us hope that they will be able to get through the summit without it descending into chaos as some fear. For Caricom, the hope will be that the outreach session will achieve its goals, making the journey to Quebec worthwhile.

This summit will be a test of Prime Minister Trudeau's diplomatic skills and statesmanship. I wish for him and Canada a successful summit.

Elizabeth Morgan is a specialist in international trade and politics. Send comments to the Observer or elizabethmorganstliz@gmail.com.

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