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G7 Biarritz Summit Heading for Success

John Kirton, Director, G7 Research Group
August 25, 2019

Halfway through the G7 Biarritz Summit, the leaders are increasingly heading for success across a broad front. They started on health with Canada and the European Union, then Japan, announcing significant increases in their financial contribution to the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. These new contributions amount to a promising total. When added to France's earlier increase, this is a good start to the mobilize to the $14 billion funding at its replenishment conference in Lyon in October this year. It remains to be seen if the other G7 members, notably the United States, will announce their contribution by the time the Biarritz Summit ends.

Second, on the summit's eve host President Emmanuel Macron chose to have the leaders focus on the forest fires ravaging the Amazon in Brazil and beyond. In response to a request from Colombia, G7 leaders agreed to offer all affected countries in Amazon the technical, financial and other support they needed to stop the damage being done.

Third, in mid-afternoon of the summit's second day, the United States and Japan announced that they had agreed in principle on their bilateral free trade agreement. This major advance for trade liberalization between the first- and third-ranked economies in the world will do much to strengthen the currently sagging global economic growth and offset the damage being done by the escalated China-US. trade war and the one between Japan and Korea too. It will also offset the greatest protections blow caused by Boris Johnson's Britain if he actually succeeds in his threat to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union – the biggest and most successful free trade area and economic union in the world. Moreover, as Japan recently signed its own free trade with the European Union, it shows the already suffering and anxious people of Britain that the big G7 partners want free trade with the European Union other than much diminished little Britain alone.

Fourth, a few minutes later, the news broke that a plane had landed in Biarritz carrying the Iranian foreign minister and delegates. It offers the prospect that the Biarritz Summit could broker a deal with its nuclear and missile program, its support for terrorism in the Middle East and its seizure of oil tankers in Strait of Hormuz. In return, this could lead to a relaxation of U.S. sanctions against Iran and the possibility that Iran could experience a full-blown financial crisis that could spread to vulnerable countries such as Turkey next door. This would also solve the great disagreement between the United States and Europe over Trump's decision to withdraw from the earlier nuclear agreement with Iran.

These health, ecological, trade and security advances are promising, but much more is needed in the second half of the Biarritz Summit for it to become more than a summit of solid success.

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