Why Business Was The Loser At The Charlevoix G7 Meeting

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The intended themes of this weekend’s G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec were gender equality, women’s empowerment, clean energy and global economic growth. It was an ambitious agenda tackling issues which the G7 had never previously discussed. This was the first time, for example, that the G7 have linked gender equality to economic growth. The challenge for this year’s Chair, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was to prevent Trump from hijacking the meeting for a second successive year and ensure these issues received the attention they deservedly warrant.

Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs and the threat of global trade war they carry with them, not to mention his Singapore summit with maverick North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un just three days after the Quebec meeting had already taken the focus away from the G7 meeting.

Which is why, at what was supposed to be a show of unity among the world’s most powerful democracies, five of the nations (it’s hard to say where Italy sits right now) found themselves united by their distrust of their most powerful partner, the United States. Trump’s antics, in pushing the world towards a trade war from which ultimately everybody will lose, means that jobs will be lost, food and goods prices will go up, and in some instances, there could be shortages of resources. None of which is good news for business.

In 2017, President Trump caused a furore during Italy’s Presidency when he criticised fellow G7 members at their annual gathering. He intimated he would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement saying he needed ‘more time’ to decide; a threat that he subsequently fulfilled. He openly attacked Germany for their high level of car exports to the US, calling it ‘very bad on trade.’ And had to be pushed to sign up to a statement on protectionism. This was not the behaviour the G7 were used to. These meetings have always been highly choreographed in the past to present a unified front.

This 2018 meeting of the G7 was an opportunity to show the world that they want to create a better, fairer world. The world arguably is at crisis point, and cannot afford the luxury of an empty meeting.

Trump, who has since before and after his election in 2016 faced a slew of allegations about inappropriate sexual behaviour, scored no points for walking in late arrival to the gender equality breakfast, missing Justin Trudeau’s opening remarks. And he left the summit four hours earlier than originally planned, to fly to Singapore ahead of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meaning he missed a working session on climate change and clean energy, as well as talks among the G7 and poorer countries focused on the health of oceans.

Trump rounded off his performance by sending two angry tweets from Air Force One announcing he'd ordered his officials not to sign a joint statement underlining the G7’s commitment to “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade,” and by accusing Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, of being "dishonest and weak" in an angry outburst.

Whatever method there was to Trump’s antics at the G7 meeting was well-hidden. But one thing is for sure. Failure to engage seriously in discussions about gender equality, women’s empowerment, clean energy and global economic growth means business was the loser at the G7 meeting.

Thankfully all was not lost as five countries signed up to a Plastics Charter to recycle and repurpose plastics. But it’s a good job big brands are stepping forward with their promise of a recycling revolution.

Question: What was your take on the G7 meeting? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share in the comments box below.

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