Mon | Aug 2, 2021

G-7 leaders agree on vaccines, China and taxing corporations

Published:Sunday | June 13, 2021 | 9:39 AM
Leaders of the G7 pose for a group photo on overlooking the beach at the Carbis Bay Hotel in Carbis Bay, St. Ives, Cornwall, England.

CARBIS BAY, England (AP) —
Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Sunday pledged more than 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, vowed to help developing countries grow their economies while fighting climate change and agreed to challenge China's “non-market economic practises” and call out Beijing for rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Speaking at the end of a G-7 leaders' summit in southwest England, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “fantastic degree of harmony” among the reenergized group, which met in person for the first time in two years.

The leaders wanted to show that international cooperation is back after the upheavals caused by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

And they wanted to convey that the club of wealthy democracies — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — is a better friend to poorer nations than authoritarian rivals such as China.

Johnson said the G-7 would demonstrate the value of democracy and human rights to the rest of the world and help “the world's poorest countries to develop themselves in a way that is clean and green and sustainable.”

“It's not good enough for us to just rest on our laurels and talk about how important those values are,” he told reporters after the three-day meeting on the Cornwall coast. “And this isn't about imposing our values on the rest of the world. What we as the G-7 need to do is demonstrate the benefits of democracy and freedom and human rights to the rest of the world.”

But health and environmental campaigners were distinctly unimpressed by the details in the leaders' final meeting communique.

“This G-7 summit will live on in infamy,” said Max Lawson, the head of inequality policy at the international aid group Oxfam. “Faced with the biggest health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our planet, they have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times.”

Despite Johnson's call to “vaccinate the world” by the end of 2022 the promise of 1 billion doses for vaccine-hungry countries — coming both directly and through the international COVAX program — falls far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organisation said is needed to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world's population and truly end the pandemic.

Half of the billion dose pledge is coming from the United States and 100 million from Britain.

The G-7 also backed a minimum tax of at least 15 per cent on large multinational companies to stop corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com