The G8 In An Evolving World

Trade And Economy Top G8 Agenda
Next week European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will open the G8 summit in Ireland and says the agenda will be focused on building ties between the European Union and the world through trade and investment.

“We will continue to try to move forward the multilateral agenda where possible. For example, we are fully engaged with our partners to conclude a WTO trade facilitation agreement, which would have a huge positive impact for developing and least developed countries.

“The G8 summit should make the case for such an agreement and then, together with the G20, provide the political impulse needed to close the deal at the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali in December,” said Barroso in a recent speech.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to take the lead in arguing for tighter financial regulations aimed at clamping down on tax havens.

Syria To Overshadow G8 Summit
Despite Barroso’s desire to move forward on a multilateral agenda, his plans could be disrupted by external events, namely the rapidly developing crisis in Syria. Britain and Germany likely will seize on the opportunity to pressure Russia over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Is The World Becoming More Fragmented?
In 1987, Ronald Reagan stood at Brandenburg Gate and issued a grand challenge to the Soviet Union to “tear down this wall” and reunite a torn Germany. At the time, the Soviet Union was the enemy and the lines were clearer – and simpler.

The Europe President Barack Obama will visit is mired in economic unrest and deepening divides among member nations. The world is more interconnected, but seemingly without a unifying leader, says Jean-David Levitte of the Brookings Institution.

Levitte says that “our planet is seen as a global village, interconnected. But there’s no one in the driver’s seat” and it is “is no longer multipolar; it is now apolar. Worse: The risk of fragmentation is very real.”

The chaos of the global order, Levitte asserts, has also spread to global institutions.

“Despite the establishment of the G20 and efforts by the IMF, five years of financial crisis have led to a three-speed economy, consisting of the emerging countries, North America, and Europe and Japan. The failure of the Doha world trade talks is leading to a proliferation of regional, transpacific and transatlantic negotiations, and it is doubtful whether the nomination of the Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo to replace the Frenchman Pascal Lamy will be sufficient to revive the WTO,” Levitte writes.

Stewart Patrick of the Council of Foreign Relations views the world differently than Levittee. Rather than suffering from a lack of multilateralism, Patrick contends our era reflects multilateralism’s flexibility.

“What is distinctive about our era is not the absence of multilateralism, but its astonishing diversity and flexibility. When it comes to collective action, states are no longer focusing solely or even primarily on universal, treaty-based institutions like the United Nations—or even on a single apex forum like the Group of Twenty (G20). Instead, governments have adopted an ad hoc approach, coalescing in a bewildering array of issue-specific and sometimes transient bodies depending on their situational interests, shared values, and relevant capabilities,” he writes.

And he views the G8 a symbol of that new multilateralism.

“The G8 retains unique advantages as a minilateral forum for political and macroeconomic coordination among advanced market democracies—notwithstanding Russia’s sometimes fractious relations with its liberal partners. These strengths will be in evidence next week, when the body meets for its annual summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.”




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