Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations pledged to continue government spending to help economies recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The G7 is an intergovernmental organization consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
New US President Joe Biden made his debut as leader on the world stage during the discussion, which was held over a call. The meeting was centered on how to, in the words of British prime minister Boris Johnson, “build back better” after the health crisis.
“We will continue to support our economies to protect jobs and support a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive recovery,” the G7 said in a statement published after the call. “Recovery from COVID-19 must build back better for all.”
The G7 nations committed to considering debt relief for developing nations and promised to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. They also underlined the importance of multilateralism, a sign that the group wanted to move past the Donald Trump era. It also agreed to strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Drawing on our strengths and values as democratic, open economies and societies, we will work together and with others to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism and to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our people and planet,” the leaders said. “We will intensify cooperation on the health response to COVID-19.”
On the planned Tokyo Olympics, all the G7 leaders expressed their support for Japan’s plan to hold the Games this summer, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga informed after the discussion.
Dealing with China
The call was also an opportunity for western leaders to start to make a plan for dealing with China and its growing power in areas from trade to technology.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G7 wanted to bolster cooperation with the Asian country. Meanwhile Joe Biden was explicit on the issue. “We have to push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system,” he said. “The competition with China is going to be stiff. That’s what I expect. And that’s what I welcome.”
Leaders also used the call to emphasize the need for digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to promote democratic values and freedom of expression. The G7 countries insisted on the need to reach a “consensus-based solution” on international taxation, amid talks on how to tax digital giants.
The leaders of the G7 countries are set to meet in person in June this year in England.