Follow the leader
to the lagoon.
Puff like a blowfish,
round as the moon.
from: Swallow the Leader: A Counting Book
written by Danna Smith
illustrated by Kevin Sherry
Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
The other day I read that the revolving leadership of the G7 (Group of Seven) lands in the US this year, providing Donald Trump with a one-year turn at being the leader. I knew the G7 had something (well, probably everything) to do with the world economy, but I wanted to know more. Here’s what I found out.
The organization began in the 1970s when George Schultz, then United States Treasury Secretary, suggested it would be a good idea for the wealthiest nations to work together. As an informal gathering of the finance ministers from the United States, West Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, the leaders discussed topics such as international security, world-wide implications of stable currencies, and environmental issues, including oil cartels.
This all took place during the critical days of the energy crisis and everything that involved, economically and politically. Soon after that first meeting, Japan, Italy, and Canada were brought into the group, making 7 the number of participating countries.
In 1998, Russia was invited to join, although mostly in a political sense since the country continued to lag behind the other participants economically.
Today, the G7 are acknowledged as the seven wealthiest and most advanced nations in the world. The seven are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
China is not included because even though it holds the second largest net worth in the world, it has a low net net worth per individual and an economy that is not fully modernized.
Russia was tossed from the mix for invading Crimea in 2014, and optimism among the remaining members grew. They hoped a more like-minded group would be better able to accomplish their far-reaching and common goals.
Those hopes were dashed last year, at the 2018 summit, when President Trump called for Russia to be reinstated to the group. That did not happen. He’s undermined the cohesiveness of the group since then with his policies on trade that targeted members of the group. You might remember his comments to Angela Merkel when he criticized Germany’s trade surplus and he threatened to block US imports of German cars.
He did not endorse the alliance’s mutual-defense provisions because, he claimed, the members did not pay their fair share to NATO.
He rankled them further with his stance on Climate Change, or is non-stance a better way to express that?
In 2017, he hinted at withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. Here’s an excerpt from his June 1 speech on the White House lawn.
“Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation
of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and
economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This
includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined
contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which
is costing the United States a vast fortune.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-trump-paris-climate-accord/ By the way, in my own humble opinion, the speech sounds more like a campaign rally than a statement of US policy.
According to Climate Change News, there are 197 signatories to the Paris Agreement, but on November 4, 2019, the US joined the 10 nations which have yet to ratify the agreement: Angola, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Turkey, and Yemen. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/07/12/countries-yet-ratify-paris-agreement/
And from https://www.state.gov/on-the-u-s-withdrawal-from-the-paris-agreement/
“Today [November 4, 2019] the United States began the
process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Per the terms
of the Agreement, the United States submitted formal
notification of its withdrawal to the United Nations. The
withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the
(For a deeper discussion of member reactions to Trump’s general comments you can click here: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/g7-and-future-multilateralism, an article by the Council on Foreign Relations. From their website, “Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Our goal is to start a conversation in this country about the need for Americans to better understand the world.”)
The original scope of the G7 has expanded to cover a large number of international issues, including security, gender equality, climate change, trade, and poverty.
While still informal, the group announces its meetings and provides a general agenda. The summit rotates country by country annually. It is a controversial organization, at best, but real work happens. Foreign policy experts and cabinet-level officials conduct genuine negotiations and make significant decisions.
Since 2000, though, demonstrations and crowd control tactics have sometimes become more newsworthy than the content being discussed by these powerful leaders.
After suggesting one of his most opulent locations for the event, and receiving a swift, bi-partisan rejection, Trump has decided Camp David will be the venue for the summit. The 46th G7 summit will be held June 10 through June 12, 2020.
Lots can happen between now and then. Stay tuned!
-—stay curious! (and involved)