By Joe Montero
Scott Morrison goes to London and the G7 summit in Cornwall. Australia is not a member of the group and there because of an invitation from the United Sates to be an observer. The Australian Prime Minister was going to shine at a private meeting with United States President Joe Biden. But the presence of British Prime Minister put an end to this. In diplomatic terms, this is a snub.
Morrison had made a big deal of going and punching China on the nose. This turned out to be a non-event.
Scott Morrison’s failure does not indicate that the G7 leaders made real progress. They didn’t. There was little substance in the statements made.
To start with, the G7 is a self-appointed group of Western nations and Japan pretending to represent the world. They don’t. Any major decisions without most of the rest of the world, and for example China, amount to little. This is the second and fasted growing economy on the planet and makes up a fifth of the world’s population. Little is going to move without Chinese participation.
Russia, another major economy is also excluded. So are India, Brazil, South Korea, Spain and more.
G7 represents old Western powers and Japan and their waning economic and political supremacy. They are still formidable but can no longer impose their will with impunity. The members are the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Italy.
The most immediate issue was the pandemic and vaccination response. There had been an expectation that the summit would promote global cooperation is releasing the supply of vaccines and help poorer nations to acquire them.
The International Monetary Fund had pointed out made it clear last month. Around $US50 billion is needed to cover the cost of testing, tracing, and preventing infection. The World Health Organization’s view that the G7 had needed to commit $US11 billion to distribute vaccines.
Lofty speeches cannot cover up that they only agreed to commit to allowing $1million worth of vaccines and did nothing to promote a plan for an international effort to fight the pandemic. They refused to support a proposal to lift the patent rights of pharma companies to help cope with the emergency.
The unsubstantiated “lab-leak” accusation pointing to a China as the culprit came up. Begun by Donald Trump and continued by Joe Biden, the accusation works to get in the way of action to contain and defeat the pandemic, and It hides the inaction of some. At least the G7 did not give this credibility. But their failure to act on adequately the pandemic rings loudly.
There are those who do not like the reality that it is China, Russia, and Cuba who are doing the much more to provide the world with vaccines. One does not have to subscribe to their politics to acknowledge this reality.
The climate crisis and what to do about it was relegated to a footnote. There was no move to raise targets as the science shows is a must.
Climate movement Extinction Rebellion was in Cornwall (and other centres) to call on the G7 for action of the climate crisis
Expectations that the G7 would provide leadership to counter existing global economic problems made even worse by the pandemic have been dashed.
The breaking of multilateral and bilateral agreements between nations is endemic, together with the use of trade sanctions to put pressure on perceived rivals. The G7 did nothing to reverse any of this and promote cooperation between all nations.
Joe Biden put forward his Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Belt and Road is about improving trade, transport, and related infrastructure. The objection coming from some is that this provides China with diplomatic gain. 134 nations have signed up with the initiative and there are more lining up.
Joe Biden voiced the concern with these words.
“It’s a way for China to gain influence with these countries so that they develop closer relations with Beijing and draw them closer to China, while undermining the influence of the US” .
The purpose of the B3W is to be a counter initiative, providing U.S. infrastructure development loans to G7 members and other down the track, tied to the acceptance of predetermined political conditions and reliance on the private sector as the lead.
Although voted for, the European leaders made it perfectly clear that they are wary of confronting China. They called for a balanced approach. There is a good chance that little will come out of B3W.
An agreement on taxing multinationals, made before the proper summit begun, has Heralded as the main achievement of the G7 this year. The claim is that this will counter massive tax evasion. This is exactly what it fails to do. Loopholes and the 15 percent minimum rate will mean that it will be lowered in many cases.
The main difference that this agreement brings is allow a major portion of corporate tax evasion through a regime that legitimises it, while pretending to impose some control.
From the viewpoint of the participants, this G7 gathering was not a failure. It achieved exactly what they set out to achieve. Their concern is a battle for supremacy. For everyone else it is a failure, which goes to show that reliance on these leaders is a dead end, and, if we want change, it must come about by another way.