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A Dual Track to Start Day Two at Charlevoix

John Kirton, G7 Research Group
June 9, 2018

At the dawn of the second, final day of the G7's Charlevoix Summit, both sunlight and darkness dominated the political sky.

The sunlight shone in the opening breakfast of G7 leaders with the Gender Equality Advisory Council, a session that U.S. president Donald Trump  chose to attend. To be sure he arrived a bit late, but that was because he was reportedly pouring over the draft text of the summit's final communiqué that he wanted it to produce. It became clear that at a news event scheduled for noon, the majority of G7 members would announce new financial contributions to the Charlevoix Summit's signature success of educating poor girls, with the focus on those suffering most in conflict-ridden zones. It seemed certain that the total amount announced would well exceed the $1.3 billion that the smart, sophisticated coalition of non-governmental organizations had asked for at the start of Canada's year as host. A second announcement would launch a campaign by multilateral development banks to raise money from the private sector to support women's economic empowerment in poor countries of the global economic south.

Just after 10.00 am Donald Trump gave a lengthy news conference lasting well more than half an hour, rather than just swiftly flying off in silence to Singapore to meet the North Korean leader on June 12. Such as swift departure would properly have been treated as somewhat of a G7 summit snub. He highlighted the importance of his Singapore Summit with his North Korean counterpart, a historic initiative for which he had unanimous G7 support. He and economic advisor Larry Kudlow also emphasized their belief in full free trade, with zero tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies on all products from all countries, as a key driver of economic growth.

Yet amidst the sunshine, serious dark clouds soon appeared. The new headline stated that it was doubtful that a pre-negotiated consensus communiqué would be produced The roadblock appeared to be the resistance of some partners to the draft that Trump said the day before he thought would be produced. A second cloud was the dominance in time, energy and menacing tone of the trade issue at Trump's pre-departure news conference, even if he stressed that he did not blame his G7 partners for the prevailing present injustices he perceived, but only his many U.S. presidential predecessors instead. A third cloud was the prospect that there would be less money mobilized for poor women than the $5 billion that Steven Harper had produced for maternal, newborn and child health at the last G7 summit Canada hosted, at Muskoka in June 2010.

Still, as the second day unfolded, with Trump gone and the many outreach leaders present, attention turned to issue of ocean health and the signature G7+ initiative to prevent plastic pollution and make coastal communities more resilient. By the time the summit ended and the even, the third signature achievement – preventing foreign from interfering in elections – would be added, Charlevoix would thus conclude as a summit of at least a substantial and probably a significant success.

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