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Comparing Canadian and Japanese Approaches to the Seven Power Summit

Charles McMillian

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The Toronto Economic Summit, the second occasion when the seven leaders of the industrialized countries meet in Canada in the past 14 years, is a timely opportunity to reflect on the institutions and management of the international economy. It is also appropriate to reflect on Canada s experience in Economic Summits, a vital link in Canada's broader diplomacy as an industrial power in a turbulent world economy.

The annual Economic Summit now plays a pivotal role in the relatively new and as yet uncharted waters of international economic policy coordination. It is evident that the global economy is undergoing enormous strains severe trade imbalances, persistent currency misalignments, international debt problems and the paradox of rising world trade but also v rising protectionism and managed trade (quotas, VER's, legislated restrictions, etc.). It is in this area where Claude Bissell s perceptive understanding of the interplay between politics and economics remains so timely. The organizers of this Toronto Summit lecture series are to be congratulated for their initiative, and for linking this great educator's name to the task of teaching Canadians about the issues and the challenges facing the Seven Power Summit.

Canada, of course, as one of the most open economies of the international trading system, is hardly immune from these contentious issues. Indeed, Canada s leadership at the Toronto Summit will be both appreciable and ambitious, as host. and as a country at the top of the OECD growth chart.

To the outsider, which includes almost the entire population of the Western World, the Economic Summit is largely a media event a flash on the evening news amidst a glimpse of the touristic delights of Venice or the pleasures and costs of downtown Tokyo. Yet by the same token, except through the consumer goods available in the shopping malls, or the newscasts like the coverage on Black Monday, most citizens remain blissfully unaware of the growing apparatus established by governments to manage the international economy. If economics is the dismal science, then international economics may appear internationally dismal. Politicians may not be everybody s favourite figures, but there can no longer be any doubt that their action by deed of commission or omission can have grave and direct consequences for us all.

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