If stereotypes were to prevail, Canada’s turn at the group’s annual presidency should have been a polite and reserved affair. The conclusion of this year’s meeting of the G7 in Charlevoix, Quebec, was one of the more contentious (and possibly exciting) in recent history; a meeting that adjourned raising more questions regarding the future of global trade (replete with allegations of backstabbing) and one iconic image.
The G7: What is accomplished?
The importance of G7 meetings is debatable: G7 meetings are little more than a recommitment ceremony between like-minded economies. Over the course of the past 10 years, the G7 (and, prior to 2014, the G8) has reliably and regularly discussed trade and investment, the environment, African development, energy issues, and coordinated foreign policy. Agreement has been the standard; follow through has been optional. (As this backgrounder from the Committee on Foreign Relations states, the group is not a formal institution and therefore lacks enforcement mechanisms.)
An unprecedented lack of support?
While the United State’s retraction of support for the meeting’s final communique is startling (especially after previously agreeing to the statement), it is not unprecedented for a G7 participant to withhold support for a joint statement (see last year’s G7 meeting in Sicily). Given the myriad world issues the G7 discusses, it’s likely that other countries have withheld their support as well.
G7 meetings: what are the hot-button issues?
With this in mind, we reviewed the past 10 years of G7 (G8) meetings to see what new issues were introduced. See below for a year-by-year list.
- 2008 Global economic recovery
- 2009 Global economic recovery
- 2010 Burgeoning terror threat in Middle East
- 2011 Internet access & issues
- 2012 Arab Spring (and the Deauville Partnership)
- 2013 Commitment to TPP & Global trade initiatives
- 2014 Ukraine crisis (note: Russia kicked out of G8 this year)
- 2015 Women’s entrepreneurship
- 2016 Migration
- 2017 Innovation
- 2018 Gender equality