Dialogue must continue to mend G-7 divisions

opinion June 15, 2018 01:00

By YOMIURI-SHIMBUN
ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The framework for the Group of Seven advanced nations, a structure for supporting world prosperity and stability, faces a crisis. Close dialogue must be continued to mend the state of division among the G-7 countries.



At economic discussions at the latest G-7 summit meeting in Canada, the United States came under a barrage of criticism from other member nations. This was because the United States had unilaterally imposed additional tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Japan, the European Union and Canada.

The EU and Canada started preparations to slap retaliatory tariffs on imports of US products.

“Just exchanging trade-restrictive measures will not benefit any nation,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasised. However, the G-7 discussions remained as far apart as ever.

The schism was already evident at a meeting of G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors that had taken place before the summit meeting.

The G-7 leaders’ failure to make mutual concessions at the face-to-face summit talks represents a serious situation.

The G-7 countries share such values as democracy and market economies. They have fulfilled a certain role in facilitating growth and stabilising the global order through efforts to tackle such problems as oil crises and financial unrest.

Divisions among the G-7 nations will incur large losses not only for the group but for the whole world. There is a pressing need to restore unity among the G-7 nations so they can perform their primary role.

It should be noted that there is an increasing number of areas in which the G-7 members cannot act in concert. This change seems to have been caused by the advent of US President Donald Trump, who pursues an “America first” policy and makes light of multilateral frameworks.

To make up for the G-7 group’s functional disorder, it will be important for its member states to recognise each other’s differences and utilise new trade talks agreed upon between the United States and European countries as well as working-level talks at the World Trade Organisation.

It is regrettable that the G-7 meeting produced few achievements in other fields, either, as a result of antagonism between the United States and the other participating nations.

China has continued its unfair practices, including violating intellectual property rights. Although the latest summit provided an excellent opportunity for the G-7 nations to join hands in urging China to improve the situation, they failed to carry out exhaustive discussions.

Contrasted with the economic discussions in which there was only discord among the G-7 nations, they were unanimous regarding the North Korean problem.

To achieve North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, the Japanese prime minister said, “It is indispensable to get North Korea to take concrete actions.” The other top leaders agreed.

Immediately prior to the first US-North Korea summit meeting in history, it is greatly significant for the G-7 countries to confirm their cooperation and support the talks.

Russia’s possible return to the G-7 group was also discussed in the latest meeting. The Crimean problem has caused a serious schism in Russia’s ties with the United States and European nations.

If Russia rejoins the G-7 group just at a time when the relationship among G-7 countries remains fragile, it could only deepen the antagonism between them.