Summit Wraps Up With Covid, China, Climate Takeaways: G-7 Update
(Bloomberg) -- It’s the last day of the Group of Seven summit hosted on the southern English coast by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the final communique confirming a commitment to provide 1 billion extra doses of Covid-19 vaccines for other countries. It also, as expected, backs U.S.-led calls for a fresh probe of the origins of the pandemic.
The statement presses China over human rights and urges Russia to hold to account groups carrying out ransomware attacks from its soil.
After some haggling, the final document falls short of the earlier language on a timetable to shift the balance of car buying away from gasoline to greener vehicles.
Macron says respects U.K. sovereignty as Brexit tensions simmer (3:58 p.m.)
French President Emmanuel Macron insisted he was respectful of U.K. sovereignty and territorial integrity, and repeatedly urged “calm” on Brexit during a post-summit press conference, after tensions over the post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland boiled over at the gathering.
Macron suggested the U.K. position on Northern Ireland was incoherent, saying border checks now implemented were part of the Brexit agreement that Johnson agreed to. Still, at the end of the briefing he made a point to thank Johnson for hosting the summit. -- Ania Nussbaum
Italy talks tough on tackling China (3:48 p.m.)
Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a news conference that the group’s main thrust needs to be the challenge of China and “in general all autocracies which use disinformation,” among other measures, and “don’t respect human rights.” The Italian premier said representatives at this year’s gathering were in agreement on the issue. -- Jerrold Colten
Johnson downplays shadow of Brexit at summit he hosted (3:32 p.m.)
At his closing news conference, Johnson denied that post-Brexit diplomatic rows over the Northern Ireland protocol had dominated the summit.
“Actually I can tell you the vast majority of conversations that we have had over the last three or four days have been about other subjects and there has been a fantastic degree of harmony,” he told reporters. “I really couldn’t have asked for a more cooperative work or more energetic spirit from our friends.”
Johnson declined to be drawn into whether he plans to extend some social distancing regulations beyond June 21 as Covid cases rise. “No final decision has been taken,” he said, adding the right time to speak about that is Monday. -- Kitty Donaldson
G-7 presses Russia on ransomware attacks (2:22 p.m.)
Leaders in their communique urged “stable and predictable relations with Russia,” even as they called on it to “stop its destabilizing behavior and malign activities, including its interference in other countries’ democratic systems.”
There’s a particular reference to cyberattacks, an issue likely to come up when U.S. President Joe Biden meets on Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The statement presses Russia to “identify, disrupt, and hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks,
abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cybercrimes.”
Ahead of their meeting, both Biden and Putin have talked about the potential to at least agree to defuse tensions, even if there are no tangible outcomes. -- Rosalind Mathieson
G-7 backtracks on timetable to ditch petrol, diesel cars (1:47 p.m.)
An earlier draft of the communique included proposals for a new aim to make zero emission vehicles form the majority of new passenger car sales by 2030. But that policy -- including the target date -- was dropped from the final version agreed to on Sunday.
Instead, leaders recognized the need for “dramatically increasing the pace of global decarbonization of the road transport sector” through this decade and beyond.
“We commit to accelerate the transition away from new sales of diesel and petrol cars to promote the uptake of zero emission vehicles,” the document said. -- Tim Ross
Trudeau’s camp pushes him as ‘dean’ after Merkel exits G-7 (1:34 p.m.)
When Angela Merkel leaves politics this year, Canada’s Justin Trudeau becomes the G-7’s longest-serving leader. He is positioning himself as the elder statesman of the group, though other countries don’t yet see him owning the role in the way the German chancellor did.
Canadian officials said Trudeau offered to help find a solution to the Northern Ireland Brexit dispute between the U.K. and the EU.
However, Trudeau isn’t without his clout -- including when it comes to China. Johnson asked him to lead discussions on how allies can coordinate their efforts to contain Beijing’s economic and strategic influence. -- Kait Bolongaro
Communique confirms vaccine promise, calls out China (1:31 p.m.)
Leaders have promised to deliver at least 1 billion extra Covid vaccine doses over the next year, according to the final communique seen by Bloomberg News. They say total G-7 commitments “since the start of the pandemic provide for a total of over two billion vaccine doses.” They also call for a fresh World Health Organization-convened probe into the origins of the virus, a move that will irk China as it revives chatter about how the virus first emerged in Wuhan.
There are specific mentions of China in the statement, with a call for it to respect human rights in its western region of Xinjiang and in Hong Kong, where it imposed a national security law last year as part of a crackdown on political opposition. The communique expresses concern about the use of forced labor in global supply chains which is likely a reference also to China, given some countries say it exploits Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, though that section does not mention China by name. -- Alberto Nardelli
Merkel aims for a quiet G-7 farewell (12:02 p.m.)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not want people making a fuss over her last G-7 -- and the other leaders complied. There were warm wishes, but no goodbye gifts. In her final G-7 press conference she did not make news, though she was asked about her fondest memory of these three days. And it wasn’t meeting some of the new leaders, but seeing the Queen.
“It was a big honor that three generations of the royal family came here and spoke to us,” she said. “Especially of course, her Majesty, the Queen. I think that was a special experience for everybody.”
She sounded a cautiously optimistic note on the world without her as chancellor (she steps down after an election in September): “Look, the election of Joe Biden as U.S. president doesn’t mean that the world no longer has problems. But we can work on the solutions for these problems with a new zest.” -- Arne Delfs
Macron shrugged off Northern Ireland/Toulouse comparison (11:51 a.m.)
An Elysee official is seeking to clarify an exchange between Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, after British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested Macron had implied Northern Ireland was not fully part of the U.K.
When the two leaders met on Saturday, Johnson compared current border controls which add hurdles for U.K. meat to enter Northern Ireland to a court ban on exporting the famous Toulouse sausages to Paris, the official said.
Macron called the comparison irrelevant, given the cities of Toulouse and Paris are in the same geographical space, while Northern Ireland is on an island, the official said, adding the French leader then turned the conversation to “key topics of this G-7” -- implying Brexit isn’t one of them. -- Ania Nussbaum
Vaccine pledges grow, but so do questions (11:34 a.m.)
On Saturday, Merkel said the G-7 would collectively distribute 2.3 billion vaccine doses to developing countries by the end of next year. A European Union official told reporters that pledge would be a combination of direct sharing of doses, contributions to the Covax program and exports.
G-7 leaders have said they would provide an additional 1 billion vaccine doses in the next year, with the U.S. pledging to ship half that target. The U.K. has pledged 100 million doses at the summit, Canada up to 100 million, while the EU committed to the same amount at a meeting last month, including 75 million from Germany, France and Italy.
It is unclear how the various commitments break down between fresh announcements, earlier pledges, donations and exports -- those details may be made clear later on Sunday.
As part of recasting the target, the official said the EU would double the vaccines that have been exported from the bloc from the current 350 million to 700 million by end-year. The EU view, the official added, was that allowing exports was key to getting the world vaccinated. Millions of doses have been sent from the EU to other G-7 members, including Japan and Canada. -- Arne Delfs, Alberto Nardelli and Josh Wingrove
IMF talks up reallocation of funds to poorer nations (11:01 a.m.)
The International Monetary Fund said the G-7 will provide “a very clear indication” of support for proposals to reallocate $100 billion of IMF reserves to more vulnerable countries to aid their recovery from the pandemic.
“It is very very doable and we are prepared to make it happen,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said at media briefing on the sidelines of the summit in Cornwall.
Georgieva also warned that British attempts to seek a waiver for financial services from the historic multinational tax deal could undermine the agreement. “In our view, we should aim for simplicity,” Georgieva said. “Simplicity means the fewer deviations from a broad principle the better.” -- Jonathan Browning
South Africa calls on G-7 to help with funding shortfall (10:40 a.m.)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called on G-7 leaders to help “address the substantial financing gap” for testing, treatment and vaccination against Covid-19 between rich and developing nations. G-7 countries that together account for more than half of global output should contribute to narrowing a $16.8 billion funding gap in a key WHO program, Ramaphosa said, according to published on the presidency website.
“If all G-7 countries met their fair share target, this initiative would be two-thirds funded -- and it would be 90% funded if all G-20 countries made their fair share contributions,” he said. -- Prinesha Naidoo
Biden attends local church ahead of final summit session (10:12 a.m.)
Biden stopped in to worship at a historic church overlooking the English coastline. When he exited the Sacred Heart and St. Ia Catholic Church, he walked first lady Jill Biden to a car in the motorcade and gave her a peck on the lips before returning to the presidential vehicle.
She’s going her own way while he attends the final session of the three-day summit. He will do a press conference in Cornwall at 2:40 p.m. local time before flying to Windsor Castle. -- Jennifer Jacobs
U.K.’s Raab Attacks ‘Ignorant’ European Union (9:45 a.m.)
Raab continued his attacks on the EU amid a spat over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, saying some EU figures were “ignorant” and failed to understand the region is an integral part of the U.K.
Raab confirmed that Macron suggested to Johnson that Northern Ireland was not a full part of the U.K. when the two leaders met on Saturday. The bloc should abide by the “spirit” of the Brexit protocol and not just take a “purist” attitude to the letter of the law, Raab told Sky News. -- Tim Ross
Raab defends leaders bunching together at Saturday dinner (9:21 a.m)
Raab said officials at the G-7 have been “comparing notes” on the evidence individual countries have for whether Covid-19 emerged via a laboratory leak in Wuhan. The U.K. does not think the virus originated in a lab, Raab said, but rather “we think it’s much, much more likely to have been a jump from animals to humans.”
Raab also defended the government’s arrangements for the summit after photos emerged of G-7 leaders crowding together on Saturday night for a barbecue on the beach. Johnson on Monday is expected to announce a delay in the lifting of final lockdown measures as virus cases rise again.
The foreign secretary said he expected people would understand that the “serious business” that G-7 leaders are engaging in at the summit exempts them from social distancing guidelines. -- Kitty Donaldson
Australia seeks reset via talks with China (8:50 a.m.)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he wants to restart talks with Beijing, as geopolitical tensions continue to bleed into a key trade relationship for Australia.
“Australia is always ready to sit around the table and talk through how our partnership can be made to work,” Morrison told reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of the Cornwall meetings.
Ties nosedived last year when Australia called for an independent probe of the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The subsequent trade reprisals included tariffs of more than 200% on Australian wine, with Morrison saying last week the government is seeking to take World Trade Organization action to resolve the dispute. -- Angus Whitley
China says ‘handful of countries’ shouldn’t decide global order (7:58 a.m.)
Even before a final communique is issued, Beijing has taken a swipe at the G-7 discussions, saying a plan by Western countries to safeguard the so-called “rules-based international system” is outdated.
“The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the U.K said in a statement on its website. “We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries.”
An earlier draft of the communique seen by Bloomberg urges China to respect human rights, while calling it an “international partner, economic competitor and strategic rival.” -- Shamim Adam
Doubts over the detail in climate financing pledges (7:37 a.m.)
G-7 leaders face calls to spell out how much money they will commit to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels and tackle climate change. But while they are set to confirm a pledge to mobilize $100 billion a year to that effect, they have yet to say how much more each of them will put toward this goal (one diplomat says the amounts being discussed fall far short of what’s needed), and campaigners want to see details before the summit ends.
Overnight, the U.K. confirmed G-7 leaders will back a green rival to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. The program, first reported by Bloomberg earlier this month, will aim to support green transitions and infrastructure projects in developing countries around the world.
As previously reported, leaders will also set out action to slash carbon emissions, including ending all unabated coal as soon as possible, ending almost all direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas and phasing out petrol and diesel cars, the U.K. government said in a press release. -- Alberto Nardelli, Tim Ross
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