Pulling To­gether

All na­tions com­pris­ing the seven rich­est, the less richer twenty and the de­vel­op­ing ones, must pull to­gether to counter the is­sues that face the world as a whole, such as ter­ror­ism, cli­mate change and the debt trap.

Southasia - - MALÉ - By Dr. Moo­nis Ah­mar

The Group of Seven com­posed of the world’s rich­est coun­tries - Bri­tain, Canada, France, Ger­many, Italy, Ja­pan and the United States, was struc­tured in the af­ter­math of the oil cri­sis in 1974. Rep­re­sent­ing coun­tries con­trol­ling global fi­nan­cial re­sources, the G-7 was en­larged by co-opt­ing the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion in 1994 and was re­named as the G-8.

Fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea in 2014, its mem­ber­ship was sus­pended and the group re­verted to its orig­i­nal seven mem­bers. G-7 was work­ing smoothly till the time U.S Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fol­lowed a con­fronta­tion­al­ist ap­proach with other mem­bers at the sum­mit held in Charlevoix, Québec on June 8 and 9 this year. As the pres­i­dency of the G-7 moved to the host coun­try, the Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, in his wel­com­ing note, stated: “Canada is proud to host the 2018 G7 Sum­mit in Charlevoix. This vi­brant re­gion cap­tures ev­ery­thing that our coun­try is about – from bilin­gual­ism, to cul­tural di­ver­sity, to stun­ning scenery in every sea­son. I look for­ward to wel­com­ing my coun­ter­parts this year in beau­ti­ful Charlevoix. I’m sure they will fall in love with the re­gion, just as Cana­di­ans have done for gen­er­a­tions”.

The U.S Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called for the re-ad­mis­sion of Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion in the fold of G-7 but Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin gave a cold shoul­der to the Amer­i­can sug­ges­tion. The Charlevoix sum­mit will be known for one ma­jor event: the iso­la­tion of the United States as other mem­bers of the G-7 re­fused to sup­port the Amer­i­can trade pol­icy and the un­pleas­ant be­hav­iour of the U.S. Pres­i­dent in which he called the Cana­dian Pres­i­dent “"meek and mild" and "dis­hon­est and weak." The im­po­si­tion of tar­iffs and other trade re­stric­tions by the United States on Canada and other G-7 mem­bers also be­came a source of dis­cord dur­ing the de­lib­er­a­tions at the G-7 sum­mit.

The Group of Seven is more than forty years old and, ex­cept from 1994 till 2014, when the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion was a co-opted mem­ber of G-7 (then called G-8) the world’s seven rich­est coun­tries met every year to dis­cuss global eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity is­sues and how to re­tain the edge of Western democ­ra­cies in world af­fairs. From the cold war to the post-cold war, the is­sue of ter­ror­ism dom­i­nated the pro­ceed­ings of G-7 sum­mits. Dur­ing 2018, the ma­jor themes of G-7 sum­mits were: in­vest­ing in growth that works for ev­ery­one; pre­par­ing for jobs for the fu­ture; ad­vanc­ing gen­der equal­ity and women’s em­pow­er­ment; work­ing to­gether on cli­mate change, oceans and clean en­ergy; build­ing a more peace­ful and se­cure world, etc.

The G-7 coun­tries pos­sess 62% of the global wealth which comes to 280 tril­lion dol­lars and 46% of the world GDP. Yet the rich­est coun­tries of the world have been un­able to help re­solve 10 ma­jor global is­sues: poverty, un­der­de­vel­op­ment, il­lit­er­acy, mal­nu­tri­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal threats em­a­nat­ing from global warm­ing and cli­mate change, ter­ror­ism, drug traf­fick­ing, nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion, armed con­flicts and dis­place­ment of peo­ple. When the G-7 was es­tab­lished more than 40 years ago, threats of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, global warm­ing, cli­mate change and melt­ing of glaciers were not that se­ri­ous. Now, a ma­jor chal­lenge faced by the world is de­ple­tion of wa­ter and en­ergy re­sources. Un­for­tu­nately, the United States, which is still the world’s largest econ­omy, is not mind­ful of se­ri­ously cop­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal threats, par­tic­u­larly con­trol­ling emis­sion of gases from its fac­to­ries and in­dus­tries.

In or­der to broaden the re­sponse of the world to mul­ti­ple threats to hu­man sur­vival, an­other or­ga­ni­za­tion called the G-20 was formed com­pris­ing the rich­est coun­tries of the world and emerg­ing economies. The idea was to fol­low an in­te­grated ap­proach backed by de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries on deal­ing with is­sues which are crit­i­cal and dan­ger­ous. Com­posed of Ar­gentina, Aus­tralia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Ger­many, In­dia, In­done­sia, Italy, Ja­pan, Mex­ico, Repub­lic of Korea, Rus­sia, Saudi Ara­bia, Turkey, South Africa, UK, U.S. and the Euro­pean Union, the G-20 tries to strive for deal­ing with is­sues which are pri­mar­ily lo­cated in the de­vel­op­ing world but their so­lu­tions are both in the First and the Third World coun­tries.

Ten ma­jor iden­ti­fied is­sues which con­front the Third World can­not be dealt by the G-20 un­less a twopronged ap­proach is not pur­sued. First, struc­tural re­forms should be in­tro­duced in the de­vel­op­ing world in terms of good gov­er­nance, rule of rule, jus­tice sys­tem and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. Cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism also must be taken up as they are re­spon­si­ble for de­rail­ing the process of so­cial and hu­man de­vel­op­ment in the Third World and they must be erad­i­cated. The First World coun­tries rep­re­sent­ing the G-7 need to re­al­ize that the fun­da­men­tal chal­lenges faced by the de­vel­op­ing and least de­vel­op­ing coun­tries is the debt trap. There are nu­mer­ous Third World coun­tries fac­ing grow­ing debt is­sues as around half of their bud­get is used to pay back loans. Pak­istan is a vivid ex­am­ple

of the debt trap with 91 bil­lion dol­lars in ex­ter­nal and an­other 90 bil­lion dol­lar in in­ter­nal debt. To­gether, the two con­sume around 35 per cent of Pak­istan’s bud­get.

The In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB), which are the three ma­jor mul­ti­lat­eral lend­ing agen­cies, are pri­mar­ily con­trolled by the G-7 coun­tries. Since the mid-1970s when the G-7 was es­tab­lished till now, no con­crete steps have been taken by the rich­est coun­tries to pro­vide a bailout pack­age to the worst suf­fer­ers of for­eign debt. The de­mand for a New In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Or­der (NIEO) which was the essence of the North-South Di­a­logue that be­gan in the early 70s failed to ad­dress de­mands of the coun­tries of the South like bet­ter prices for the ex­port of raw ma­te­rial re­sources; trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy, fi­nan­cial re­sources and eas­ing of the pay­ment of loans from the IMF, WB and ADB.

The real chal­lenge for the G-7 is the un­re­al­is­tic and hos­tile at­ti­tude of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on mat­ters of trade, en­vi­ron­ment and im­mi­gra­tion. It is not with the G-7 that Trump is in con­flict; he has also im­posed tar­iffs and other trade re­stric­tions on im­ports from China. The split in the G-7 as a se­quel to the poli­cies of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will not only weaken the Western al­liance but will give an im­pe­tus to BRICS (Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa), a loose al­liance of like­minded coun­tries who want to trans­form the world from unipo­lar to mul­ti­po­lar. So far, the West has kept its edge on the global econ­omy, in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy but ero­sion will oc­cur if the G-7 is un­able to main­tain unity. The sheer re­spon­si­bil­ity of caus­ing a rift in G-7 will rest with the United States be­cause of its im­pru­dent and un­re­al­is­tic poli­cies of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on is­sues which are crit­i­cal in na­ture such as trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, the en­vi­ron­ment and deal­ing with the de­vel­op­ing world.

Un­less the G-7 is able to ad­dress is­sues which are caus­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges to the world, pri­mar­ily cli­mate change and global warm­ing, the West will also not be able to main­tain its edge in global econ­omy, mil­i­tary and tech­nol­ogy. In essence, the G-7 and the G-20, along with the D-8 (Bangladesh, Egypt, In­done­sia, Iran, Malaysia, Nige­ria, Pak­istan and Turkey), must work to­gether to erad­i­cate poverty and so­cial back­ward­ness and to achieve the millennium de­vel­op­ment goals. Cer­tainly, chal­lenges of the 21st cen­tury can­not be just dealt by the rich­est coun­tries of the world but re­quire col­lec­tive and co­or­di­nated ef­forts of all mem­bers of the United Na­tions.

The writer is Mer­i­to­ri­ous Pro­fes­sor of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of Karachi.

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