Vaccine diplomacy International

G7 to pledge 1 billion vaccine jabs for world

A medical worker prepares an injection with a dose of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, in London. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greeted world leaders at the Group of Seven (G7) summit on Friday, offering elbow bumps to dignitaries gathered for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus was set to dominate their discussions, with leaders of the wealthy democracies’ club are set to commit to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries.

A commitment from U.S. President Joe Biden to share 500 million doses and one from Mr. Johnson for another 100 million shots set the stage for the G7 meeting in southwest England, where leaders will pivot Friday from their “family photo” by the seaside directly into a session on “Building Back Better From COVID-19.”

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Mr. Biden said. The G7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The leaders hope the meeting in the resort of Carbis Bay will also energise the global economy. Despite the moody skies, the group walked away their photo as cheerful as children who had just built a sand castle. Led by Mr. Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron threw his arm around Mr. Biden’s shoulder. Talks were animated, but inaudible.

Global minimum tax

On Friday, they are set to formally embrace a global minimum tax of at least 15% on multinational corporations, following an agreement reached a week ago by their Finance Ministers. The minimum is meant to stop companies from using tax havens to shift profits and to avoid taxes.

It represents a potential win for the Biden administration, which has proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in addition to creating an alternative that could remove some European countries’ digital services taxes that largely hit U.S. tech firms. But the endorsement from the G7 is just one step in the process; the hope is to get many more countries to sign on — a fraught proposal in nations whose economies are based on attracting business with low corporate taxes.

For Mr. Johnson, the first G7 summit in two years — last year’s was scuttled by the pandemic — is a chance to set out his vision of a post-Brexit “Global Britain” as a midsized country with an outsized role in international problem-solving.

It’s also an opportunity to underscore the U.K-U.S. bond, an alliance often called the “special relationship” — but that Mr. Johnson said he prefers to call the “indestructible relationship.”

Climate change is also a top issue on the agenda, and hundreds of protesters gathered in Cornwall to urge the leaders to take action. Demonstrators deployed a barge off the coast with two large inflatable figures depicting Mr. Biden and Mr. Johnson on board. At another protest, demonstrators carried flags that read “G7 drowning in promises” and “Action not words.”

The official summit business kicked off on Friday, with the customary formal greeting and a socially distanced group photo.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 6:22:33 AM |

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