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The Charlevoix Summit's Success on Day One

John Kirton, G7 Research Group
June 8, 2018

As the first day of the G7 Charlevoix Summit approached its end on Friday, June 8, 2018, all signs suggested that it was on track to be a significant success.

From the moment the leaders first met face to face, their earlier threatening tweets and statements over trade and the rules of law were instantly replaced by smiles and sunny ways. Almost all observers had expected the first session on trade to be tempestuous and most predicted it would drag down the existing consensus on the many other subjects the summit would address. But even in the trade discussion no fireworks erupted, even if no one visibly shifted their previous position on the steel and aluminum tariffs that U.S. president Donald Trump has imposed on his G7 partners on the eve of the summit. Indeed, Trump and Canadian prime minister and G7 host Justin Trudeau joked about their trade disputes, leaving them to be solved another day in favour of the bonhomie that would pervade the G7 summit overall.

During the day Canada announced a contribution of $400 million toward girls education. This showed that the summit's signature achievement to educate poor girls was on track, and that new money would back the fine words the G7 leaders would produce. It remained to be seen how much the other partners would contribute to take the total beyond the $1.3 billion the non-governmental organizations had asked for and toward the $7.3 billion Stephen Harper raised on the spot for maternal, newborn and child health when he hosted Canada's last G7 summit at Muskoka in June 2010.

By Friday evening, there were strong signs that the summit would produce a pre-negotiated, consensus declaration, as all previous 43 annual G7 summits had, despite the widespread fear that the six-versus-one divisions on trade would force only an informal chair's statement to appear to describe the summit's discussions. Trump said that he thought there would be a joint statement. It became known that the veteran Canadian and German sherpas would work through the night with their colleagues to produce and agreed communiqué.

Overall, it was reported that the first day's discussions and Trudeau's bilateral talks with Trump were very positive and productive and conducted in a cordial tone.

For the evening session, leaders would meet alone to discuss the key peace and security subjects, led by North Korea, on which they were largely unified. As the first day ended, the Charlevoix summit had passed with flying colours its toughest test, on trade, where proliferating disagreement had seemed certain to be in store. With the second day scheduled to discuss the common causes of gender equality and ocean health, and with Trump leaving mid morning to fly to Singapore, Charlevoix seemed on track to be a summit of significant success.

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