Canada US Relations after Charlevoix

After the diplomatic disaster of the Group of Seven summit in Charlevoix, Que., it is now clear that for Mr. Trump it is not about leading – the traditional role of the U.S. President – but about winning at any cost. Relationships are not for cultivating, but only for using to Trumpian advantage.

Canada and like-minded countries need to stick together, act in tandem and push back against Trumpist protectionism. It means taking it to him where it hurts and targeting his base: in particular the farm community. At the same time, we need to tell Americans, who will suffer job loss and higher prices, that they have only their president to blame.

For more than 500 days now, Justin Trudeau has made nice to Mr. Trump. The advice from former prime minister Brian Mulroney was correct – that the relationship with the president is the most important relationship for a prime minister and that Canada-U.S. relations, alongside national unity and national security, are the files that require a prime minister’s constant attention.

Among liberal democratic leaders, Mr. Trudeau was seen as the one who had the best relationship with Mr. Trump. He was the Trump whisperer. But Mr. Trump’s behaviour at Charlevoix, Que., was abominable.

The tweets before Charlevoix, Que., took personal shots at both Mr. Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, the other leader who has cultivated Mr. Trump. The tweets afterward, insulting Mr. Trudeau, are beyond the pale. As Mr. Trudeau said, we are a polite people but we are not pushovers.

Canadians are justly outraged, but we have deep interests at stake, so we need to proceed with care and planning.

First, we need to get our act together domestically. Mr. Trudeau needs to consult with the premiers and business to get their advice on our retaliation list. What is their assessment of increased protectionism on their province and industries? What about life after the North American free-trade agreement? We will be hurt. We will need to provide adjustment assistance for the afflicted. But how would Americans like it if Canadians began to spontaneously boycott American goods, especially U.S. farm produce, and stopped travelling south for holidays?

Second, we need to take advantage of the free-trade deals that we already have in place and put real effort into matchmaking; business with business. As a matter of our national security (two can play this game), we should quickly pass the implementing legislation to bring the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership into effect. With Canada’s implementation, the agreement would immediately come into force.

If this means keeping parliamentarians at work into July so be it. Provincial legislatures may also have to be recalled. While they are at it they should pass their enabling legislation for the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This is a matter of grave national economic urgency. Canadians need to see that their legislators are acting in the national interest.

Third, we need to act in tandem with our G7 partners and like-minded countries, such as Mexico, as we collectively retaliate to the recently imposed steel and aluminium tariffs. Canada and Mexico learned the value of acting collectively when they worked together to persuade the U.S. Congress to rescind its protectionist country-of-origin labelling requirement in 2015.

American legislators respond to local pressure. They need to feel the heat of retaliation. Canada has a lot of allies, especially in the Republican congressional caucus. They don’t like Mr. Trump’s direction and are already moving to curb the trade powers that were ceded to the executive branch during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. Hopefully, we will see then the beauty of the checks and balances at work. The U.S. founding fathers designed their system to prevent a president from becoming a king.

The more Mr. Trump attacks his fellow G7 and fellow democratically elected leaders the more difficult it makes it for them to go along with him when it counts. That includes, however unlikely, a deal with North Korea.

The road that Mr. Trump is going down makes no economic sense. George W. Bush reluctantly imposed limited steel tariffs in 2002 (Canada was exempt) and lifted them a year later because it was costing American jobs, not creating them.

Canadians are used to compromise and consensus, especially in how we handle the relationship with Uncle Sam. Manage it well and we can tell them when their breath is bad. Mr. Trump has a bad case of halitosis. We need to tell him so and serve him the bitter medicine he has brought on himself.

CPAC Prime Time Politics Monday, June 11, 2018

Colin Robertson and Christopher Sands on Canada–U.S. Relations00:10:34Quick View

PRIMETIME POLITICS

Colin Robertson and Christopher Sands on Canada–U.S. Relations

 The G7 Summit in Charlevoix ended in dramatic fashion on Saturday with U.S. President Donald Trump directing strong criticism at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over Canada’s response to U.S. tariffs. CPAC’s Martin Stringer is joined by two experts in foreign affairs and diplomacy to assess the current state of the Canada–U.S. relationship. Colin Robertson is vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Canadian diplomat. Christopher Sands is director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. (June 11, 2018) (no interpretation)

 

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G7 Communique?

G-7 Leaders Race to Salvage Consensus

 Updated on 
  • Trump facing a backlash from leaders in Canada over tariffs
  • Meeting could instead end with less-formal chair’s statement
U.S. President Donald Trump, center left, shakes hands with Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, center right, after standing for a family photograph during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 8, 2018.

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Leaders from the world’s richest industrialized nations downplayed expectations they will agree on a formal statement at the end of their meeting, as a brewing trade dispute threatens to upend relations between the traditional allies.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the two-day Group of Seven summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it remains uncertain whether the talks will produce a joint communique. Instead, the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, could issue a less-formal chair’s statement.

Theresa May, from left, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, and Justin Trudeau during G7 Leaders Summit in Canada.

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

“I cannot say whether there will be a common statement or just a summary,” Merkel said on Friday.

It would mark a rare break in protocol for the group. The consensus documents typically outline a shared vision of global affairs, where the seven countries also undertake commitments on everything from currencies, development aid and international security.Donald Trump, for his part, told reporters at his bilateral meeting with Trudeau that he thought there would be a joint statement coming out of the summit, though he didn’t specify whether he was referring to a final joint communique or to separate side agreements.

A Guide to the G-7 Communique, How It’s Done and Why It Matters

The U.S. president is facing a backlash from leaders in Canada and Europe over tariffs he imposed last week on steel and aluminum, as well as his decisions to walk away from international deals to address Iran’s nuclear program and climate change. Leaders have struggled to find ways of getting through to Trump and persuading him to budge from his pre-established positions.

“This should not come as a surprise to anyone,” said Colin Robertson, vice president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Canadian diplomat, but “I wouldn’t say the walls have come down if we don’t have a communique.”

Robertson said there are other issues on which there will be agreement and the primary significance of these meetings anyhow is that “leaders get together and have those frank discussions.”

Sharp disagreements on trade are making it difficult for nations to come up with the traditional concluding statement from the agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he’ll refuse to sign a formal communique if there’s no progress on U.S. tariffs and other sticking points.

One solution, Merkel said, might be for Trump to withhold his signature from a final document.

“In a culture of open discussion, it’s possible that we don’t agree on all points,”’ Merkel said. “It would be more honest to address the different viewpoints and to continue the work of overcoming these differences, rather than pretending that everything is in order.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking to reporters at the summit, said officials are still in talks and “we’ll see where we land.” The G-7 is also working on side agreements for issues such as gender and supporting democracy.

“What we want to see is getting the substance right and in the past that has been done in a number of ways — a chairman’s statement, for example,” James Slack, a spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters.

A senior government official meanwhile said May would warn that countermeasures from the EU would be unavoidable unless tensions were eased quickly. She would also tell other leaders that rather than imposing tariffs on each other, pressure should be increased on China to reduce its excess steel capacity, the person said.

Tariff forum

Concerned about Trump’s approach to tariffs, Merkel on Friday proposed the creation of a “shared evaluation mechanism” on U.S. trade, a forum aimed at defusing tensions between the U.S. administration and the European Union. It’s an idea that has the support of Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a French official said.

The other six nations are pushing for the G-7 to affirm “collective trade rules” in the communique, the French official said. Trump brought his hawkish trade czar, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, along for the trip.

The tariff standoff is a complicated issue for the EU — each country is exposed to different sectors, and could be impacted differently in the event of an escalation. Trump, for instance, is considering imposing tariffs on auto imports on national security grounds, a move that would hurt major foreign auto producers like Germany.

Merkel has repeatedly called for a strengthening of the World Trade Organization and for the establishment of mechanisms aimed at preventing future trade disputes. It wasn’t clear how her proposed trade forum at the G-7 would differ from the WTO’s dispute resolution functions.

“We need again a multilateral trade agreement,” Merkel said at a business summit last month. “As we all see right now, something has become unstable and the situation is quite difficult. It is therefore important to create a reliable common legal framework and mechanisms for settling trade disputes, which are accepted by everybody.”

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Trudeau and the G7

Canadian internationalism and Trudeau’s leadership in the spotlight at G7

Justin Trudeau’s leadership skills will be tested this week when G7 leaders assemble at the majestic Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, Quebec.

Now in its 44th year, it is easy to dismiss G7 summitry as an expensive talk fest. We should look at its  $600 million price-tag as an insurance premium for global wellbeing. And frank talk among leaders of the great liberal democracies is needed now more than ever.

The erosion of public trust in liberal democracies’ institutions – government, business, the media and NGOs –is profoundly disturbing. The public needs to see its leaders taking action on the big issues of the day. The Charlevoix agenda provides that opportunity, covering gender, work, climate, energy, the oceans, protectionism, populism and extremism.

American protectionism will be top of mind in the wake of the steel and aluminium tariffs and the threat of more to come. The G7 finance ministers and bank governors drew the lines last week in Whistler highlighting the “negative impact of unilateral trade actions by the United States.”

Donald Trump will be as welcome as the proverbial skunk at the garden party. The other leaders need to take him on but not give him an excuse to walk out. As chair, Mr. Trudeau’s task is to keep the tone civil and constructive.

In recent weeks Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron have had a go at Mr. Trump on the trade differences as well as Mr. Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal. Perhaps G7 leaders, collectively, can convince him that it is better to reform, not rubbish, the rules-based international system.

A useful outcome would be agreement on how to improve dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization. Leaders should also try to get ahead of the curve and come up with a collective approach to addressing Mr. Trump’s concerns about the auto industry. More tit-for-tat tariffs are not the answer.

The G7 summit is the pinnacle of a year-long process. The deliverables outlined in the final communique will be a measure of Canadian industry in the long process that culminates with the Leaders’ summit.

open quote 761b1bDonald Trump will be as welcome as the proverbial skunk at the garden party. The other leaders need to take him on but not give him an excuse to walk out. As chair, Mr. Trudeau’s task is to keep the tone civil and constructive.

Last week in Whistler, G7 development ministers agreed to make gender equality central to development policy and approved a slew of initiatives. It is a testament to consistent Canadian leadership dating back decades, especially on empowering women, including Stephen Harper’s focus at the UN on maternal and child health. The French promise to pick up the gender baton as they host the 2019 G7 summit.

Leaders are also expected to endorse a practical plan to rid the oceans of plastics. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tonnes of plastic were produced in 2014. Without the kind of action proposed by the G7, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

We can also expect blunt talk from Mr. Trump about allies paying “their fair share” of defence costs.

Canada remains at the low end of G7 nations, as a percentage of GDP spent on defence, but Mr. Trudeau can point to a series of initiatives, taken on his watch, that put Canadians at the sharp end in support of collective security. Canada leads the NATO brigade in Latvia. Our Special Forces are in the Middle East.  Royal Canadian Navy warships are in three oceans and our submarines are now into far waters. An RCAF plane is part of UN surveillance on North Korea. And Canadian Forces will soon be part of the UN peace operations in Mali.

It’s the 60th anniversary of our continental defence alliance. Mr. Trudeau needs to visit NORAD headquarters in Colorado. He should invite Mr. Trump to join him. It would visibly underline to Americans that Canada is a steadfast ally and make a mockery of Mr. Trump’s national security argument – the pernicious excuse for the steel and aluminium tariffs.

A year ago this week, Chrystia Freeland, Harjit Sajjan and Marie-Claude Bibeau spelled out the Trudeau government’s foreign policy. It is built on the themes of multilateralism and collective security with a focus on a feminist development policy and a progressive trade policy.

Each of these themes has guided Canada’s G7 stewardship. How they are reflected in the final communique will be a measure of the new Canadian internationalism and Mr. Trudeau’s standing with his peers.


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Donald Trump and G7

G7: Donald Trump versus the rest of the world

Leaders of seven of the world’s biggest economies are in Canada for what could be most acrimonious G7 summit in years.

A trade war looms as America’s allies threaten retaliation against US President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs.

The leaders of seven of the world’s biggest economies are in Canada for what could be the most acrimonious G7 summit in years.

Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports have caused outrage and a war of words with other world leaders.

The US president also finds himself virtually isolated on the Iran nuclear deal and climate change.

A showdown seems imminent.

So are we closer to a trade war that could derail the global economy?And will America First leave America Behind?

Presenter: Elizabeth Puranam Al Jeezera Inside Story

Guests:

Colin Robertson – former Canadian diplomat and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Inderjeet Parmar – department of international politics at City, University of London

Seijiro Takeshita – dean at the school of management and information at the University of Shizuoka

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G7 and Rules Based Order

Testy Trump to ditch G7 summit early, White House says

QUEBEC — U.S. President Donald Trump is cutting short his first presidential trip to Canada this weekend, as trade and foreign policy disputes appear set to mar his planned summit with the leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies.

The U.S. president’s reception in the picturesque town of La Malbaie along the St. Lawrence River is set to be a far cry from when Ronald Reagan visited Quebec three decades ago, when he was so friendly with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney they sang a song together.

Quarrelling with Trump over his protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, decision to exit the Iran nuclear accord and retreat from global efforts to combat climate change, erstwhile American allies are turning the summit into something of an intervention, challenging the U.S. president in the most direct terms to date.

The summit threatens to mark the outer limit of international patience for the avowed nationalistic Trump, as leaders who had sought to cajole and “bromance’’ the president are embracing more hard-nosed tactics.

Before shortening his planned participation on the eve of his departure, Trump found himself publicly feuding with summit host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and with French President Emmanuel Macron — two leaders who previously banked on flattery to win concessions with the American.

Trudeau has grown increasingly direct with his fury with Trump for imposing the tariffs on Canada’s metals industries — and for justifying the protectionist move by calling those imports a threat to U.S. national security.

Under Trump, the United States has abandoned its traditional role in the G-7. American presidents from Reagan to Barack Obama pressed for freer global trade. And they championed a trading system that required countries to follow World Trade Organization rules.

Trump’s policies, by contrast, are unapologetically protectionist and confrontational. To hear the president, poorly conceived trade deals and unfair practices by America’s trading partners have widened America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world — $566 billion last year — and contributed to a loss of millions of factory jobs.

Nelson Wiseman, a professor at the University of Toronto, said he can’t recall relations between U.S. and Canada being worse. He said the G-7 meeting will appear to be six lined up against one. Indeed, on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested in a tweet that Trump might not sign the final summit statement on G-7 priorities.

“The American president may not mind being isolated,‘’ Macron tweeted, “but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be. Because these six countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.‘’

Trump offered his own digs the evening before his departure.

“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out,‘’ he tweeted, adding, “Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.‘’

Later, Trump tweeted, “Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!‘’

White House officials said Trump in recent days had bristled at attending the summit, where he is set to be challenged face-to-face on his policy decisions. Among allies, there was even been speculation that Trump might walk out of the meetings — or even decide not to show up. Late Thursday, the White House announced he would leave the summit Saturday morning, after a session on women’s empowerment but well before it wraps up.

“The President will travel directly to Singapore from Canada in anticipation of his upcoming meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un Tuesday,‘’ press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “G7 Sherpa and Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs Everett Eissenstat will represent the United States for the remaining G7 sessions.‘’

Trudeau has charged that he found the tariffs “insulting’’ and said such tactics are hardly how two close allies and trading partners that fought side-by-side in the Second World War, Korea and Afghanistan should treat one another. The Trump administration has also clashed with Canada over his insistence that the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement involving the United States, Canada and Mexico be written to better serve the U.S.

The prime minister had at first refrained from criticizing Trump, apparently in the hope that he could forge a personal relationship that might help preserve the landmark free trade deal, a forerunner of which Reagan and Mulroney negotiated. Those two leaders became fast friends and famously sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling together in Quebec City in 1985.

Trudeau’s courting of Trump appeared to work for a time. The president had initially exempted Canada from the steel and aluminum tariffs in March. But Trudeau became exasperated and took a shot after Trump let the exemption expire last week.

“We’ll continue to make arguments based on logic and common sense,‘’ he said, “and hope that eventually they will prevail against an administration that doesn’t always align itself around those principles.‘’

The United States has experienced tense relations with its allies before — over the Vietnam War, for example, over Reagan’s decision to deploy Pershing II missiles in Europe and over President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But Trump’s moves — the tariffs and his decisions to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, among other actions — have taken the hostility to new heights.

“This is the first time the U.S. government is seen as truly acting in bad faith, in treating allies as a threat, in treating trade as negative and fundamentally undermining the system that it built,‘’ said Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “This U.S. administration feels unbound by previous U.S. commitments in a way that no other administration has ever felt.‘’

“Prime ministers are people, and he’s insulted them,‘’ Reinsch said. “They’re just not going to easily roll over when he punches them in the nose like that.‘’

Canada and other U.S. allies are retaliating with tariffs on U.S. exports. Canada is waiting until the end of the month to apply them with the hope the Trump administration will reconsider. The Canadian tariffs would apply to goods ranging from yogurt to whiskey.

Robert Bothwell, a professor at the University of Toronto, said Trump’s actions appear intended to break Canada at the negotiating table.

“They are relying on the overwhelming strength of the U.S. to compel a much weaker neighbour to give in to whatever they demand,‘’ Bothwell said. “That brings in the real possibility of lasting damage to Canadian-American relations.‘’

Bothwell expects this to be Trump’s only visit to Canada. He even wonders if it could be the last G-7 meeting for the president.

“We’ve not had an American president or administration like this in the post-war period,‘’ said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat. “I am worried because it is destructive to the rules-based international system that the Americans have been the guardian of.‘’

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G7 Tying Gulliver Down

POLITICS

06/06/2018 12:12 EDT | Updated 20 hours ago

G7 Without Trump? Experts Say His Presence Needed Despite Tariff Fight

The U.S. president’s world view doesn’t jive with his fellow global leaders.

EVAN VUCCI/AP VIA CP
Leaders of the G7, from left, European Council President Donald Tusk, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Donald Trump pose for a family photo at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina on May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy.

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Primer to the G7

A Primer to the G7 Summit in Charlevoix June 8-9, 2018

by Colin Robertson CGAI Fellow  June 2018

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Table of Contents


Introduction

On Friday and Saturday, June 8-9, the leaders of the major democratic nations will meet in their 44th summit to discuss global geopolitical and socioeconomic issues at Charlevoix’s magnificent Manoir Richelieu. Each leader will have their own agenda. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s challenge as chair is to bring his fellow leaders into as much consensus as possible given their disparate perspectives on diverse issues including gender, work, climate, energy, our oceans, protectionism, populism and extremism.

The summit, in the picturesque La Malbaie region, 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, takes place against an erosion of trust in our government institutions – international, national, regional and municipal, in once-mainstream political parties, in business, in the media and in our leadership generally.

There is also a growing beggar-thy-neighbourism among international trade and investment partners. For U.S. President Donald Trump, it is “America First … Buy American and Hire American”. The recent application of 25 per cent tariffs on steel and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum from Canadian and European producers will make Mr. Trump as popular as the proverbial skunk at the garden party.

The geopolitical challenges facing the leadership of the leading liberal democracies were discussed at a May meeting in Toronto of the G7 foreign and security ministers. They include denuclearization (or not) in North Korea and Iran and containing chemical, biological and nuclear proliferation. Collective action, including spending, on security and defence against both conventional and unconventional threats, including cyber, is likely to be discussed. The U.S., once the guardian and anchor of the liberal, rules-based international system, is no longer willing to carry the system and pick up the tab.

There are continuing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Central Africa and Mali, and the threat of what are now described as “returning foreign terrorist fighters”. Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and meddle in the democratic processes of others. In the South China Sea, China’s armed forces occupy and exercise on newly created territory. The Israeli-Palestinian situation is worse. There is renewed famine in the Horn of Africa. There is organized crime trafficking in people, drugs, guns and weapons of mass destruction.

Venezuela is a failing state with over 5,000 fleeing daily to neighbouring nations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. It strains the EU, divides its member nations and is a ready tweet for Trump. Canada has developed a strategy and is putting the spotlight on the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya.

On the economic front, the IMF World Economic Outlook (April 2018) continues to show broad-based momentum with the long-awaited cyclical recovery in investment and manufacturing.

There is continuing strong performance in the euro area and in Japan, China, the United States and Canada, all of which grew beyond expectations last year. The G7 economies – facing aging populations, falling rates of labour force participation and low productivity growth – will likely not regain the per capita growth rates they enjoyed before the global financial crisis.

In Europe, Brexit continues to pose uncertainties. Now there is Italy and questions about its continuing membership in the Eurozone. Joblessness, especially youth unemployment, besets southern Europe. Global debt levels – both private and public – are very high, threatening repayment problems as monetary policies normalize.

Protectionism and the prospect of trade restrictions and counter-restrictions threaten to undermine confidence and derail global growth prematurely. The Trump administration’s trade policies will certainly be discussed: the tariffs just applied on steel and aluminium, the investigation into the auto industry, the tariffs on China and the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. The uncertainty is bad for growth and creates uncertainty and distrust amongst trade partners. The markets are reacting negatively and investment decisions are put on hold.

Charlevoix1.jpg

Figure 1: Public Trust in Institutions: 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

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Who and What is the G7?

The G7 is the forum at which the leaders of the big liberal democracies talk about what troubles them and how they can collectively fix it.  Its current membership:

  • Canada – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • France – President Emmanuel Macron
  • Germany – Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Italy – incoming Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte
  • Japan – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  • United Kingdom – Prime Minister Theresa May
  • United States – President Donald Trump
  • European Union – Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk

Collectively, they represent more than 60 per cent of global net wealth and 45 per cent of global GDP. The G7 provides 76 per cent of the world’s “official development assistance,” which is defined as government aid intended to improve economic and social development in poor countries. The G7 also provides 81 per cent of the global humanitarian assistance. Through their membership in NATO, the European and North American G7 members provide the backbone of collective security and humanitarian relief. Japan is not a NATO member but NATO and Japan are currently strengthening relations to address shared security challenges

As in the past, other leaders will be invited to Charlevoix, including United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, and the heads of the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The leaders of other countries (e.g. Vietnam), including some that could be swamped by rising sea levels, are also expected to be invited.

The G7 came into being in the wake of the 1973 OPEC oil crisis and the appreciation by then-U.S. secretary of the Treasury George Shultz and former president Richard Nixon that the leading democratic powers needed a forum at which their leaders could meet in sustained but informal discussion over a couple of days. Russia was a member from 1997-2014 but Vladimir Putin was disinvited after the Russian invasion of Crimea and Ukraine.

Charlevoix2.jpg

Figure 2: The flag of each Group of Seven (G7) country.

Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau hosted Canada’s first G7 summit in 1981 at Montebello, and since then we have hosted summits in Toronto (1988, Brian Mulroney), Halifax (1995, Jean Chrétien), Kananaskis (2002, Jean Chrétien), and Huntsville (2010, Stephen Harper).

Summitry for the G7 is not cheap, but think of it as an insurance premium for global wellbeing. The Trudeau government allocated $600 million in its 2018 spending estimates for Charlevoix. The bill for Canada’s hosting of the 2010 Huntsville summit topped $1.1 billion. Most of the money is spent on security.

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The Road to Charlevoix

The leaders’ summit is the culmination of a year-long process of meetings that for Charlevoix brought together their sherpas, foreign and security ministers, finance and development ministers, energy and environment ministers, with sessions involving the so-called G7 engagement groups: Business7, Civil7, ThinkThank7, Labour7, Science7, Women7 and Youth7.

Meeting in Toronto in April, the foreign and security ministers produced a detailed communiquéthat addressed four main themes: (1) a rules-based international order; (2) non-proliferation and disarmament; (3) transnational threats to security; and (4) conflict prevention and support for United Nations efforts and reform. They also released a declaration, Defending Democracy – Addressing Foreign Threats, with specific measures related to democratic institutions and processes, disinformation and media, fundamental freedoms and human rights. There were also specific commitments to advance international humanitarian law and their women, peace and security initiative.

Security ministers produced a communiqué addressing trafficking in persons, counterterrorism and cyber-security. There was also a declaration around managing foreign terrorist fighters and a commitments paper that discussed managing threats domestically, countering violent extremism, preventing violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet, cyber-security and the fight against cyber-crime, and trafficking in persons.

In May, G7 leaders released a statement “rejecting the electoral process” that led to the May 20 presidential election in Venezuela and declared their commitment to a “peaceful, negotiated, democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela”.

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The Charlevoix Agenda

As G7 host throughout 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau announced in December, 2017 that the theme of advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment will be integrated throughout the presidency, and at all ministerial meetings.  According to Mr. Trudeau: “This focus on gender as an overarching theme throughout everything the G7 does is something that we want to establish, not just for this year and next year, but for many years to come.” An advisory council, including billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, is developing gender-related recommendations touching on each one of the five themes for the G7 summit:

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Figure 3: A map illustrating the rank of various countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Index. Canada ranks 16th. (Source: BBC)

There has been some criticism that the focus on the oceans has replaced traditional geographic focus on Africa that G7 leaders began in 2001. African development was a central theme of the summit Chrétien hosted in Kananaskis (2002). The foreign ministers discussed Africa and it will doubtless get leaders’ attention.

But with limited time, Canada is putting a focus on oceans. Canadian waters include three oceans: the Arctic, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Our oceans cover roughly 70 per cent of the globe and are fundamental to managing our climate because they produce approximately 80 per cent of our oxygen. The oceans are also the primary source of food for over a fifth of the world’s population. The oceans discussion is expected to focus on three issues: overfishing, plastics dumped in ocean waters and coastal states facing rising sea levels.

Plastics are a solvable problem. Around eight million tonnes of plastic enter the marine environment each year, and the figure is set to rise. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tonnes of plastic were produced in 2014, which will double within 20 years, and projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

The EU is already moving ahead with a directive to curb the use of plastics.

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Figure 4: A graphic from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlining the anticipated plastic-to-fish ratio in the world’s oceans by 2050. (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

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What About Deliverables from Charlevoix?

Deliverables come in two parts. There are the useful initiatives – on gender, on oceans – that the various working groups have negotiated, some of which involved collective financial commitments, in the months leading to the summit. For example, leaders are expected to announce an initiative, with initial funding from governments and pension funds,  focusing on gender diversity in global capital markets, on strengthening expertise in sustainable infrastructure and on financial disclosures to create sustainable change.

Then there are the top-table agreements on critical issues hammered out in their face-to-face formal and informal discussions at Charlevoix. For example, the G7 Leaders collectively rejectedthe electoral process that led to the recent Venezuelan election. The extent and number of these commitments is their test at Charlevoix, especially given the divide between President Trump and the other leaders on so many issues. As host and chair, the pressure will be on Justin Trudeau to find consensus and translate that into a shared communiqué.

Initially seen as a constructive and capable internationalist, Mr. Trudeau’s reputation has taken a beating after his recent Asian trips – fumbling the conversation, especially with Abe, over what is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP); the rebuff in Beijing from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in what many thought would be a framework for closer economic relations with China; the India trip that has given his critics continuing material over his dress, invitee list and the suggestion that the Indian Security Service wanted to upend the visit.

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Figure 5: Public perception of the Prime Minister’s performance abroad has soured in recent months. (Source: Abacus Data, March 2018)

In setting out the priorities for Charlevoix, Mr. Trudeau declared that “Canada is proud to put forward a progressive agenda for the 2018 G7. The themes we have chosen for the year will help focus our discussions on finding real, concrete solutions to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment, clean energy, and economic growth that work for everyone. As G7 partners, we share a responsibility to ensure that all citizens benefit from our global economy, and that we leave a healthier, more peaceful, and more secure world for our children and grandchildren.”

Canada has new deals with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership that it now needs to consolidate into measurable results. The negotiations with the U.S. and Mexico on NAFTA are in flux. Canada depends on the global economy and it still needs to build ties in Asia and the rest of the Americas in general and with China and India in particular. Leaders will be interested in the Trudeau government’s decision to buy the Trans-Mountain pipeline and proceed with construction.

As to the other leaders:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, attending his seventh G7 summit, is concerned about rising China, the now-nuclear North Korea and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, especially the vital sea lanes through the South China Sea on which Japan depends.

New Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, leads a coalition government, Italy’s 65th government in 73 years. Mr. Conte, “the synthesis of the Five Star movement”, is the sixth unelected prime minister in a row. He can be expected to press fellow leaders on the need to address the migration crisis of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa. Italy’s national statistics institute, Istat, says that there are five million foreigners legally resident in Italy. That’s 8.3 per cent of the country’s population of 60.5 million. More than 690,000 migrants, most from sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived by boat from Libya since 2013. With a GDP of $1.6 trillion and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 133 per cent, leaders want to know what is next for Italy. Its economic situation is precarious and political uncertainty undermines market confidence. But is Italy simply “too big to bail”?

French President Emmanuel Macron is at his second G7. Mr. Trudeau says President Macron has promised to pick up the baton on advancing gender issues when the French host the G7 summit in 2019. A committed Europeanist, President Macron is driving a series of domestic reforms that has created considerable backlash, especially from the trades unions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the doyenne of the group (this is her 13th G7 summit). A couple of years ago, the Economist described her as the “Indispensable European” arguing that “without Ms. Merkel, it is hard to see Europe mastering its destructive forces.” This assessment still applies. She recently completed negotiations to form another grand coalition – her fourth government. She and Mr. Trudeau spoke recently about climate change, protectionism and the need to make “meaningful investments” for educating girls and aiding women in crisis settings.

US President Donald Trump is the wild card at this, his second G7 appearance. He has clashed repeatedly with his G7 colleagues and takes a different tack on most issues – defence spending, trade, climate, and immigration and refugee policy. His Middle East policies – leaving the Iran nuclear agreement and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem – have put him at odds with the rest of the G7. The imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum under specious ‘national security’ grounds and the threat to use this same approach on autos has led Canadian and European leaders to retaliate. He will be quizzed on the on-off-maybe on summit with North Korea as well as the Iran nuclear agreement that he has now abandoned to the chagrin of the Europeans, each of whom lobbied him personally to stay in the deal. Mr. Trump will also likely continue to urge his fellow leaders to “pay their fair share” on collective defence. While NATO spending has gone up and Allies, including Canada, have commitments for more spending within the G7, only the U.S. and Britain meet the NATO set norm of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence.

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Figure 6: A graph outlining how much NATO members have allocated for defence expenditures as a share of their GDP. (Source: NATO)

British Prime Minister Teresa May is also attending her second G7 summit. She still needs to secure a favourable deal from the Europeans ahead of their impending divorce. In the wake of the Skripal affair, she will be pushing for G7 solidarity in continuing sanctions against Russia.

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Do We Really Need a G7?

Yes. The rules-based liberal international order and multilateral co-operation are under protectionist and populist pressures, both from within and without. The G7 summit is the top table where the leaders of the major liberal democracies visibly demonstrate (or not) their ability to collectively manage the geopolitical pressure points and the growing socioeconomic consequences of globalization. Winston Churchill, who popularized the word “summitry”, observed that “jaw-jaw” among leaders is better than “war-war” and with trade conflicts on the rise within the G7 partnership they need to talk. For over forty years, frank discussions and informality have characterized the G7 summits.

This is its advantage over the other top table leaders’ forum – the UN Security Council and the G20.

The Security Council’s permanent members – Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States – represent the world of 1945 and the early Cold War. As we witness over Syria, North Korea and other recent crises, getting the Security Council to act constructively is very difficult. Reforming the Security Council is an exercise in futility.

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Figure 7: A graphic outlining how individual countries break into the G7, G8, and G20. (Source: Foreign Policy in Focus/Bloomberg)

The G20, founded in 1999 with strong Canadian encouragement, includes the G7 members – Canada, the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom – as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.  With two-thirds of the world’s population, their economies account for approximately 80 per cent of world trade and global production.

Like the G20, much of the G7’s value is in its process – the meetings of sherpas and ministers throughout the year and the working groups examining issues like gender, climate, youth employment, health, food safety, development, energy, environmental protection, non-proliferation and support for the UN’s peacekeeping and peace-consolidating operations.

More people may work on the draft of the final communiqué than will read it but the process of getting there is what really matters. The ongoing meetings between the leaders’ sherpas – their personal representatives – and relevant ministers keep the dialogue going. They are supported by their discussions with business, civil society and think tanks. Canada’s sherpa, deputy minister Peter Boehm, a veteran diplomat and former Canadian ambassador to Germany, captured it best when he said: “The G7 is a collective, it’s not a global government. Yes, we’re going to have differences – we wouldn’t be having these meetings if we were all agreed on everything … The leaders are really only together for about 48 hours, so are we going to solve all the problems in the world? No. Can they have a good discussion and push things forward? Yes. Can they convince some of the more recalcitrant leaders that maybe they should be a bit more open-minded? There’s a good possibility of that too.”

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Figure 8: Graphs displaying the growth of U.S. trade as a percentage of GDP, and global protectionist measures.

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Further Reading and Listening

The Government of Canada’s G7 site contains much useful background. The best Canadian source for G7/8 documentation, with a chronology of past summits, is the University of Toronto’s G7 Information Centre managed by John Kirton. CGAI has also released a series of Global Exchange podcasts based on presentations in early May by Peter Boehm, the G7 ambassadors resident in Ottawa and a panel of Canadian experts looking at what Canada wants from Charlevoix.

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Figure 9: The 2018 G7 logo, which evokes Charlevoix’s rich natural landscape. (Source: PMO)

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G7 Trade and Trump

Trump’s global trade war

‘Today is a bad day for world trade,’ says Cecilia Malmström, the European trade commissioner.

By

Updated 

 

The Trump administration ratcheted up the brinkmanship by announcing new duties on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 

Donald Trump’s move to slap penalties on imports from U.S. allies including the EU is moving the country to the brink of a global trade war — with U.S. consumers, farmers and manufacturers caught in the middle — as the White House tries to wrest concessions from reluctant trading partners.

The Trump administration will impose new duties on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico after failing to reach deals with them to address national security concerns related to the imports, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday.

The decision has implications for farmers in key Midwestern states who will see their exports crimped, consumers who are expected to pay more, workers who may see cost-cutting in export-heavy industries and global relations with crucial trading partners as the U.S. tries to exert pressure on China.

“Today is a bad day for world trade,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who tried to persuade the Trump administration to permanently exempt the EU from the new tariffs and begin trade negotiations instead.

“Throughout these talks, the U.S. has sought to use the threat of trade restrictions as leverage to obtain concessions from the EU. This is not the way we do business, and certainly not between longstanding partners, friends and allies,” she said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU now had “no choice” but to challenge the U.S. action at the WTO.

It also indicates that the U.S. administration has given up hope of finishing NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico in the near future. That raises the question of whether Trump will have the patience to wait until later this year or possibly even 2019 to get a new agreement, or if he will make good on a campaign promise to pull out of the 24-year-old pact. In addition, Mexico’s presidential elections are just a month away, and a new government may feel populist pressure to avoid giving any concessions to the Trump administration.

Mexico condemned the move and provided a partial list of $3 billion worth of U.S. imports that it will hit with retaliatory duties. The items include manufactured goods like lamps as well as agricultural imports from its neighbor like pork, apples and various cheeses.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU now had “no choice” but to challenge the U.S. action at the WTO and to proceed with initial plans to retaliate on $3.3 billion worth of U.S. exports including items like yachts, whiskey bourbon, lipstick and orange juice. Those duties are expected to go into effect in mid-June.

Agricultural products make up about one-third of the total EU retaliation list in terms of value, with goods like kidney beans, rice, cranberries and peanut butter facing tariffs. The list also hits about $1 billion worth of U.S. iron and steel goods.

“This action puts American workers and families at risk, whose jobs depend on fairly traded products from these important trading partners. And it hurts our efforts to create good-paying U.S. jobs by selling more ‘Made in America’ products to customers in these countries,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

The action also casts a pall over the coming G7 meeting in Canada, where Trump will meet with other leaders of the world’s seven leading Western economies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Mr. Trump will be like the proverbial skunk at the garden party given the protectionism,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian trade negotiator and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “He is the outlier anyway, but this is simply going to make those two days of discussions more tense.

A threat to domestic production

The latest move is another outgrowth of a Trump administration investigation released earlier this year that found that the overall volume of imports posed a threat to U.S. national security by undermining domestic production of the two metals.

The U.S. imported $29 billion worth of steel in 2017 — about half of which came from the EU, Canada and Mexico. Canada supplied more than 40 percent of the $17.8 billion worth of aluminum the U.S. bought in from foreign suppliers last year.

China is largely blamed as the primary source of global excess capacity in both the steel and aluminum sectors. But the U.S. imported just $1 billion worth of steel and $1.7 billion worth aluminum from China last year because of extensive duties that have been in place for years.

The EU, Mexico and Canada argued that they are such close allies of the U.S. they are unlikely to cut off steel and aluminum shipments in times of war. But the Trump administration rejected that reasoning.

“There is potential flexibility going forward. The fact that we took a tariff action does not mean there can not be a negotiation” — Wilbur Ross, U.S commerce secretary 

Despite the brinkmanship, Ross said the Trump administration wants to continue negotiations. He said he’s still planning to make a trip to Beijing this weekend even after the U.S. announced it would slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, jeopardizing a fragile agreement to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China. And Ross also said there’s still scope for negotiations with Canada, Mexico and the EU that could reduce or eliminate the tariffs.

“There is potential flexibility going forward,” Ross said. “The fact that we took a tariff action does not mean there can not be a negotiation.”

Surprise for neighbors

The decision to impose tariffs came as a shock to Canada and Mexico, as both countries thought that they would be spared from the levies because of earnest negotiations that they have had with administration officials over NAFTA. One U.S. industry official who had been in contact with negotiators from both sides said neither country had been notified by the White House as of Wednesday evening and they were learning of the possibility of tariffs from news reports.

But after nine months of NAFTA negotiations, there is no clear end to the talks and therefore Canada and Mexico were added to “the list of those that will bear tariffs,” Ross said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had traveled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss the issue, among other matters, with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. But she left having made little progress in discussions and having little idea of what the Trump administration’s plans were, two sources briefed on the meeting said.

“Canada considers it frankly absurd that we would in any way be considered to be a national security threat to the United States,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday. “I would like to absolutely assure Canadian participants, those who work in steel and aluminum industries, that the government is absolutely prepared to and will defend Canadian industries and Canadian jobs.”

Other Republican members of Congress were quick to criticize the move.

“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in response to the action. “We’ve been down this road before — blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

The Aluminum Association, which represents much of the aluminum companies in the U.S., also said that it was “disappointed” by the announcement. “Today’s action does little to address the China challenge while potentially alienating allies and disrupting supply chains that more than 97 percent of U.S. aluminum industry jobs rely upon,” said Heidi Brock, the group’s president and CEO.

But defenders of the administration’s action said it was badly needed to restore order to international steel and aluminum sectors.

“This situation needs to be dealt with. The rest of the world has enabled China to continue to produce massive amounts of steel with excess capacity into the hundreds of millions that has totally disrupted the global steel industry,” said Dan DiMicco, a former trade adviser to Trump.

DiMicco, who was a long-serving CEO of U.S. steelmaker Nucor, said China has always found ways to circumvent previous restrictions by sending products via Canada and Mexico, as well as Vietnam and South Korea, where they are slightly modified or relabeled before being sent to the U.S.

“If the whole world had dealt with this problem originally as we talked about for the better part of a decade now, we wouldn’t be where we’re at,” he said. “But we are where we’re at because nothing’s been done and it’s time to get it done.”

In that regard, the Trump administration hopes other countries will follow the lead of the EU, which has announced plans to impose safeguard restrictions on imports, so it isn’t hit with product diverted from the U.S.

“We look forward to other countries doing very similar things to shut down this very global problem,” Ross said.

Megan Cassella, Adam Behsudi and Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting.

 

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Rethinking International Assistance

 

How Canada should rethink international assistance

The Globe and Mail Thursday, May 26, 2016

As the federal government rethinks its international assistance policies, it should heed the call from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for transformative change to global humanitarian relief.

This week’s Istanbul humanitarian conference has put the spotlight on the current state of the global relief system and the effort to reform how the world responds to humanitarian crises.

Disasters, natural or man-made, are increasing. So is the number of conflicts as well as failed and failing states. And the current system of international aid is underfunded and overstretched. The UN estimates that 125 million people need humanitarian relief. The need for smarter relief and development assistance is urgent and immediate. Rethinking our international assistance is timely and sensible.

Officials at the Istanbul conference pointed to the breakdown of international norms on asylum, the need to localize aid and frictions between those who provide relief and those who do not. The conference will provide some much-needed context for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Group of Seven leaders, who are looking at aid accountability as part of their broader summit discussions this week in Ise-Shima, Japan.

While the UN is often criticized as nothing more than a talk shop, in recent months it has concluded a global climate accord and set new sustainable development goals – all of which will factor into Canada’s assistance review. The review, running from May to July, promises broad consultation with planned events around governance, pluralism, diversity and human rights as well as peace and security.

The future direction of Canadian assistance is clearly stated in the government’s discussion guide. International assistance is to advance the UN 2030 Sustainable Development agenda while applying “a feminist lens” to help “the poorest and most vulnerable people.” But to expect more money would be “unrealistic … in the current fiscal context.”

While the overall direction has yet to be determined, the differences between the previous Conservative government’s approach – an emphasis on environmental sustainability, gender equality and governance – are likely to be more tonal than substantive.

Nor is former prime minister Stephen Harper’s framework – with its emphasis on untied aid and a selective country focus – likely to change. The Liberal government has also decided, wisely, to maintain the consolidation of diplomacy, trade and development.

Much of Mr. Harper’s signature program, to improve maternal, newborn and child health, also fits into the Liberal paradigm. The government will continue supporting this initiative, but with more support for family planning and greater attention to the root causes of maternal and child mortality.

The success of the government’s development review will hinge on a number of factors.

First, investing more money. Canada currently sits in the bottom half of the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development when it comes to development assistance. While the Liberal government is right to oppose “throwing buckets of money indiscriminately,” more money, well-spent, makes more impact.

As a recent report assessing Canada’s engagement gap put it, we meet the definition of “free riders” when it comes to development and defence. If Britain can devote 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product to development assistance and 2 per cent to defence (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization standard), shouldn’t we at least aspire to this goal?

Second, Mr. Harper was right when he underlined the importance of accountability in development. But let’s do it with a lighter touch, practise risk management and recognize that civil society organizations (CSOs) need multiyear commitments to demonstrate results. Governments insist that CSOs bring their overhead down, yet they drown them in paperwork.

Third, we can’t boil the ocean so we need to focus. Our projects will always reflect our values, but there is nothing wrong with choosing those that also complement our trade and investment interests. In Africa, for example, our development assistance should work in tandem with our resource industries’ investment to demonstrate best-in-class corporate social responsibility.

Fourth, we need to improve and develop Canadian expertise by investing in Canadian CSOs and in youth exchanges. Programs like Canada World Youth gave generations of Canadians their first international experience while giving their foreign counterparts an appreciation of Canada that has opened doors in diplomacy, trade, education and migration.

Finally, donors – especially in the West – are fatigued and skeptical about aid’s effectiveness. The Liberal government should use these consultations to reassure Canadians about the efficacy of development assistance.

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G7 in Japan

Canada and Japan talk trade in lead up to G7 summit

JOHN IBBITSON

The Globe and Mail  Sunday, May 22, 2016 10:05PM EDT

Justin Trudeau arrives in Japan on Monday for a week of talks ending in a G7 summit that is darkened by stalled trade agreements, a rising tide of insurgent populism and the possibility that a President Donald J. Trump could attend next year.

The ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement may not make it through the U.S. Congress; both Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump, the likely Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, spout protectionist rhetoric; Britain votes June 23 in a referendum on whether to leave the European Union (called “Brexit”); and political turmoil in Europe threatens the future of the EU itself.

“The returns on trade have not been translated onto the dining room table,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. Coupled with the uncertain recovery from the financial crisis of 2008-09, this has led, he believes, to a growing mood in both the United States and Europe that’s “anti-trade, anti-immigration, anti-big business, anti-establishment.”

Despite this, both Canada and Japan would like to reinvigorate their flagging trading relationship. Japan, once Canada’s second-largest trading partner, is now fifth. The two countries began free-trade negotiations in 2012, but put those talks on hold when they joined the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership talks that included the United States and a raft of Pacific nations.

Now all parties are holding their breath to see whether the U.S. Congress will ratify the TPP, as it’s known, since both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump say they oppose it. At the same time, populist politicians in both the United States (Mr. Trump on the right and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on the left) and in Europe threaten the existing order.

In Austria’s presidential election on Sunday, the candidate supported by the Greens and the candidate of the extreme right-wing Freedom Party each took half the vote, with no clear winner apparent. Nativist, nationalist, populist parties are on the rise from Poland to France.

“You’ve got an awful lot of unhappy, angry people out there,” noted John Manley, head of the Business Council of Canada. “All they know is that things haven’t gotten better for them and they’re not sure why, but trade is a pretty convenient target.”

Against this backdrop, Mr. Trudeau will be offering a message of hope at the G7: that sustained government spending, such as the Liberals’ 10-year, $120-billion infrastructure plan, can revive both growth and confidence. It’s a 180-degree turn from what Canada was saying under the austerity-minded leadership of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

“I don’t think anything has changed to make the Canadian voice any more or less powerful today,” said Rohinton Medhora, president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont. “What matters is what the Germans think in Europe, what the Americans think about these issues.”

But if Canada does not have much influence in the global debate over trade, it does have an enormous stake in the outcome. The Canadian economy depends on trade, so any reversal of the decades-old trend toward ever-freer trade puts Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity at risk.

Mr. Manley said he believes there could also be opportunities. If the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement fails to be ratified, he is urging Mr. Trudeau to renew trade talks with Japan. “Canada has a rather unique opportunity to be a hub, rather than just one of the spokes,” he said, able to market itself as a conduit to both American and European markets.

All the more reason, Mr. Robertson urges, for Mr. Trudeau and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland to hie themselves to Europe sooner rather than later to nail down ratification of the Canada-EU free-trade agreement.

G7 leaders are painfully aware that, should Donald Trump become U.S. president, the global order would be under enormous strain. Not only is Mr. Trump vehemently opposed to the TPP (and to the North American free-trade agreement), he is threatening to launch a trade war with China and has mooted withdrawing the American security umbrella protecting Japan and South Korea.

But Mr. Medhora remains hopeful. If the British vote to stay in Europe and the Americans elect Hillary Clinton, he observes, then the established order will remain largely intact. “A lot depends on what happens with Brexit and the U.S. elections.”

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