47th Edition of G7 Summit

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    Recently, the seven nations of the Group of Seven (G7) have held the 47th G7 Summit at Cornwall in south-west England.

    • It was hosted by the United Kingdom (UK), which in January 2021, invited India to attend the Summit, along with Australia and South Korea as guest countries.

    Group of Seven

    • It is an intergovernmental organisation of seven countries that are the world’s most industrialized and developed economies.
    • Present Members: France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, United States of America, Canada and Japan.
      • All the G7 countries and India are a part of G20.
    • Genesis
      • It traces its origin to an informal meeting of the Finance Ministers of France, West Germany, the US, Great Britain and Japan (Group of Five) in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
      • Canada joined the group in 1976 and the European Union (EU) began attending the meetings from 1977.
      • It was called the G8 after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997 and it returned to being called G7 when Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
    • Principles
      • The group regards itself as “a community of values”, with freedom and human rights, democracy, the rule of law, prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.
      • It prides itself as a group of nations that steadfastly promote liberal democracy and enjoy economic prosperity, which they seek to institutionalise through multilateral cooperation.
    • It meets annually to discuss issues of common interest like international security, energy policy and global economic governance.
    • It does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters and the decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.

    (Image Courtesy: HBS)

    Major Highlights of the Summit

    • Build Back Better World (B3W) Initiative
      • It was proposed by the US President for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
      • The initiative pledges hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment in low- and middle-income countries based on values-driven, high-standard and transparent partnerships.
      • It is seen as a counterweight against China’s multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
    • Building Back Together: Open Societies and Economies
      • The ‘Open Societies Statement’ was adopted at the end of this outreach session, where the Prime Minister (PM) of India was the lead speaker.
      • The joint statement was signed by the G7 countries and India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa, termed as ‘Democracies 11’ by the British PM.
      • The statement held that the world is at a critical juncture, facing threats to freedom and democracy from rising authoritarianism, electoral interference, corruption, economic coercion, manipulation of information, including disinformation, online harms and cyber attacks, politically motivated internet shutdowns, human rights violations and abuses, terrorism and violent extremism.
      • Open societies that reaffirm and encourage the values of freedom of expression, both online and offline, as a freedom that safeguards democracy and helps people live free from fear and oppression.
        • However, several leaders expressed concerns that open societies are particularly vulnerable to disinformation and cyber-attacks.
      • The statement stressed on the need to ensure that cyberspace remains an avenue for advancing democratic values and not of subverting it.
      • It also committed to strengthen open societies globally by protecting civic space and media freedom, promoting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and freedom of religion or belief, and by tackling all forms of discrimination, including racism.
        • For India, these are important commitments amid global concern over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was cleared by Parliament in 2019.
      • The statement is directed at China and Russia and the situation in India was not discussed.
        • India has been under scrutiny over internet curbs in Jammu and Kashmir and over the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 and the face-off with tech giants.
      • Another G7 statement hit out at China on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and the unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the South China Sea.
        • It also called for a transparent and timely World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid-19 origins study in China.
        • However, it was not signed by India and other outreach countries.
    • Building Back Greener: Climate and Nature
      • The session on Climate Change actions will lead up to the Conference of Parties (COP) 26 Summit, which will be held in the UK, later in 2021.
      • India highlighted the non-democratic and unequal nature of global governance institutions and held that the planet’s atmosphere, biodiversity and oceans cannot be protected by countries acting in silos.
      • India called for the reform of the multilateral system and collective action on climate change and stressed that developing countries need better access to climate finance.
      • India called for a holistic approach towards climate change that covers mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, climate financing, equity, climate justice and lifestyle change.
      • On India’s unwavering commitment to climate action, the Indian PM highlighted that India is the only G20 country on track to meet its Paris commitments.
      • India also took note of the increasing effectiveness of the two major global initiatives namely the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and International Solar Alliance (ISA). 
    • Building Back Better From Covid-19
      • The G7 leaders took note of the havoc caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on people’s lives and economies.
      • In the Carbis Bay Declaration, the participants held that quickly developing and licensing vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for future diseases is an important step in order to prepare for future epidemics or pandemics.
      • The G7 pledged over the next 12 months to secure a further 1 billion vaccine doses either through donating surplus supplies or providing further finance to COVAX.
        • COVAX is the UN-backed scheme charged with distributing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
      • The main new pledges came from the US, UK and Germany, where the US committed sharing 500 million doses and the UK committed for another 100 million shots.
      • The communique also set out plans to reduce roadblocks to production in Africa and on the controversial proposal for a TRIPs (Intellectual Property Rights) waiver for Covid-19 related medicines and vaccines.
        • They will support manufacturing in low income countries and would engage constructively on the issue of intellectual property waivers in discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
        • India sought strong support from the G7 countries for the joint India-South Africa proposal for a TRIPs waiver, which would enable the UN plans to vaccinate the globe by doubling the production of coronavirus vaccines.
    • Economic Issues
      • Global Minimum Tax
        • The G7 formally embraced a global minimum tax of at least 15 per cent on multinational corporations, following an agreement reached by G7 Finance Ministers earlier.
        • It is meant to stop companies from using tax havens to shift profits and to avoid taxes.
        • It was proposed by the Biden administration as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in addition to creating an alternative that could remove some European countries’ digital services taxes that largely hit US tech firms.
      • Special Drawing Rights
        • The G7 also agreed to increase the SDRs of low-income countries by USD 100 billion.
        • SDRs are issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to boost the reserves and reduce the borrowing costs of vulnerable countries, allowing them to increase spending on health systems and cover pandemic costs.
    • Other Highlights
      • The UK PM sought to hail the traditional trans-Atlantic ties with the US and a revival of their mutual role in setting the multilateral tone for G7 and beyond.

    Source: TH