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From Okinawa 2000 to Genoa 2001

Country Performance Assessment

Overall Grade: B-

Objective: Environment
Grade: B-

President Chirac attended Genoa with the stated objective of securing a renewed commitment by all G8 countries to the stalled Kyoto accords. In addition, he has committed France to greater environmental responsibility on the home front through a number of initiatives including ‘ecotaxes'; he wants to see similar levels of progress on the environment made in other countries so that no one country bears the associated costs alone.

In the final G8 Communique, substantial progress has been made in a number of areas, including renewable energies, which in the long-term help to fulfill the main objective of Kyoto – reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, little progress was made on Kyoto itself; if anything the US and the European countries each became more entrenched in their own positions. In fairness, the G8 leaders did manage to keep the dialogue going. In fact, President Chirac feels that Canada was moving toward the European point of view, however this was conditional upon acceptance of credits for Canadian carbon sinks and exports of clean electricity. Overall, despite some progress, it is felt that there is a long way to go before Kyoto is ratified.

Given the multi-faceted nature of environmental topics in the Communique, a 20% weighting was assigned to non-Kyoto issues, with the remaining 80% being allocated to Kyoto. Grading for these areas has been assessed at B+ and C+, respectively, with an overall environmental score of B-.

Objective: Economic Slowdown
Grade: B

French President Jacques Chirac has stated that he would not be overly optimistic or pessimistic about global economic prospects. On one hand, the French economy has not demonstrated a similar weakening as has been felt in several other G8 economies. In fact, the latest forecast calls for an annual economic growth for France of 2.3% in 2001, only slightly below its 2.9% growth rate in 1999. President Chirac has further stated that he would be very ‘happy' with that kind of growth for several years. Thus, his objectives have not been to take drastic domestic action but to push for structural reforms, based on multilateral initiatives, that respond to weakness in other economies. As the 4th largest exporter in the world, France recognizes that it will eventually suffer economic weakening if growth does not resume in the economies of its trading partners. In addition, President Chirac has sought initiatives that would promote greater long-term economic resilience to prevent or mitigate such instances of economic weakness.

In the end, the G8 nations concretely responded to the above concerns with a number of multilateral initiatives, including an agreement to launch a new WTO trade round, action to enhance the stability and integrity of the international financial system and actions to ‘ensure that the poorest countries are not left behind', including implementation of HIPC. In addition, the final G8 Communique places a great emphasis on not only promoting greater market access by 3rd world countries, but helping these countries to participate in expanded trade through expanded private sector investment and direct financial assistance in health and education. This goes against the ‘Trade, not Aid' philosophy that President Chirac had deemed as insufficient in years past. One initiative to this end calls for duty-free and quota-free access to markets for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Finally, a renewed emphasis has been made on helping African countries, many of which are former French colonies, speak the French language, and are natural outlets for expanded French trade.

This constitutes measurable progress, however most of the wording in economic commitments contains statements that are difficult to quantify or involve future discussion as opposed to immediate action. As such, France's objectives have not been met to the extent that warrants a grade in the ‘A' range. A grade of B has been assigned.

Objective: National Missile Defense (NMD)
Grade: D

President Chirac had wanted the G8 nations to agree to the need for Russian partnership and at least delaying new initiatives such as the National Missile Defense (NMD) initiative being planned by the US. However, although President Chirac reports that this issue was discussed, it is not present in the final G8 Communique, nor is it referred to directly in the Foreign Ministers' statement from their July 18-19, 2001 meetings. Rather, the text of that statement only ‘welcomes' adherence to existing non-proliferation regimes, indicating minor progress on this issue.

As a result, a grade of D has been assigned.

Objective: Israel-Palestine
Grade: A

France's objective was to have the Mitchell Report implemented in full, with a continued American commitment to participating in the peace process. From G8 statements made on July 21, 2001, the Mitchell Report was confirmed as being the basis for further negotiations and the G8 leaders further agreed to call for international observers to be sent to the Middle East, based on agreement by both parties as to the nationality and structure of the observer contingent. In later reports, it appears that Israel has relented and has agreed to observers, as long as they are American.

Through the above commitment and call for action by the G8 leaders as a group, the US has signaled its continued engagement in the region and the Mitchell Report continues to apply. This fully meets France's objectives, thus meriting an A grade.

Prepared by: Robert Bacinski, Serena Yoon and Jacob Young

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