I attended the G7 summit in Ise Shima, Japan, on 26-27 May. This was the 42nd G7 summit, and the third without Russia since its exclusion in March 2014, following the illegal annexation of Crimea.
This was the first summit under Japan’s chairmanship since 2008. Under Prime Minister Abe’s leadership, Japan has focused its G7 presidency on the global economy, regional prosperity and security, quality infrastructure, global health security and women’s economic empowerment. G7 leaders also discussed key issues in foreign policy, trade, energy and climate change, and development. Prime Minister Abe invited leaders from Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Laos, Chad, and the heads of the UN, World Bank, OECD, IMF and African Development Bank to join two sessions on regional stability and development. I had a number of bilateral discussions and formal meetings with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh.
The G7 is a group of nations bound together by common values and common principles—freedom, democracy, the rule of law, a belief in open markets and respect for human rights. It is a forum where true democracies and like-minded countries come together for frank discussions on the biggest issues we face.
I went to the G7 summit with five clear objectives: to push for progress on global trade talks, particularly the EU-Japan free trade agreement; to highlight the dangers of increasing global resistance to antibiotics; to encourage G7 leaders to tackle the global scourge of corruption by committing to take forward the outcomes of the UK’s Anti-Corruption summit on 12 May; to keep up the pressure to defeat Daesh; and to ensure support for continued sanctions pressure on Russia to complete the Minsk agreement. We made good progress on each.
Leaders discussed the substantial benefits new trade agreements would bring for all our citizens. We agreed to make a renewed push on the trade agreement between the EU and the US, and we agreed to reach a political agreement on the EU-Japan trade agreement by the end of the year. This was a significant step forward. I also pushed for progress on plurilateral deals in the WTO on green goods and on services, and on the need for the WTO trade facilitation agreement to be implemented, to ensure that the poorest are not left behind.
On the threat from growing resistance to antibiotics, I made clear to leaders the scale of the problem, and the risk that if we do not act on this now, there could be 10 million excess deaths a year by 2050. Last month, Jim O’Neill published his authoritative review on antimicrobial resistance, challenging us all to act now.
As a first step, I announced that the UK has put in place £265 million to track the spread of resistance in developing countries, and £50 million into a global fund for antimicrobial resistance research and development. I also announced that we will cut inappropriate prescribing in the UK by half by 2020, leading the global field in reducing demand for antimicrobials. The UK will work with international partners to develop a system that incentivises pharmaceutical companies to bring new products to market. The G7 recognised the recommendations of Jim O’Neill’s review in the G7 Ise Shima Vision for Global Health. I also spoke to the World Bank and others about this at the summit.
I continued the push for global action to tackle corruption, and the G7 agreed to take forward a co-ordinated, ambitious global effort to defeat corruption, endorsing the outcomes of the UK’s Anti- Corruption summit. The G7 agreed to play a leading role in implementing these actions, and also agreed to a G7 action plan to fight corruption.
On the global economy, leaders discussed the risks to the world economy and to jobs and growth at home, particularly from the economic transition in China, the problems in some emerging economies, and the consequences should the UK decide to leave the EU. I highlighted the success of our monetary, fiscal and structural reform policies in the UK to reduce the deficit and put the UK back on a path to growth, and made clear the need for each country to choose its macroeconomic policy tools according to national circumstances.
I led discussions among G7 Heads on terrorism and extremism. We agreed that Islamist extremism is the threat of our generation, and that Daesh is the most violent current manifestation. G7 leaders agreed that the international community must keep up the pressure to defeat this terrorist death cult, and endorsed a G7 action plan for countering terrorism and violent extremism.
I emphasised that Britain is playing its part in confronting Daesh militarily. Our RAF pilots have now conducted more than 700 airstrikes in Iraq and since December, more than 40 in Syria—which is more than any nation other than the US. With coalition support, Iraqi forces have already retaken over 40% of the territory once held by Daesh. Our intelligence services are co-operating with each other as never before, and at the summit, leaders agreed to do more.
I underlined that we must go beyond fighting terrorism and tackle the root causes of extremism. In the G7 action plan for countering terrorism and violent extremism, leaders committed to do more to work with the private sector to tackle the poisonous ideology of terrorism online, such as through working with internet service providers and administrators of relevant applications to facilitate counterterrorism investigations and to help prevent the use of the internet for terrorist purposes to recruit and radicalise young people in our communities. We discussed all of these things and shared ideas with each other.
Leaders underlined that Ukraine is the victim of Russian-backed aggression. G7 leaders were clear that existing sanctions against Russia must remain in place until the Minsk agreement is fully implemented, and that the EU should therefore renew the sanctions currently in place at the June European Council.
G7 leaders discussed the continuing migration crisis in the Mediterranean. We agreed that we must continue supporting jobs and livelihoods in poor and unstable African countries, to try to reduce migratory pressures—and the UK is doing a great deal already in this respect. But we also agreed that we need strong borders and a means to return those who attempt to cross them illegally, often at grave risk to their own lives. In the eastern Mediterranean, on average nearly 2,000 people arrived a day before the EU-Turkey deal was signed. Since then, the average has been fewer than 100 and in May was fewer than 50. Although the agreement remains fragile, it is saving lives and reducing migratory pressures, and needs to be fully supported.
G7 leaders discussed the need to achieve the same objectives on the central Mediterranean route. We are working to agree a plan to boost the capability of the Libyan coastguard. And I announced at the G7 that, once a detailed plan is agreed with the Libyan authorities, the UK will send a training team to assist in its implementation. I also announced that, once the relevant permissions and UN Security Council resolution are in place, I will deploy a naval warship to the south central Mediterranean to combat arms trafficking in the region. Together these developments will help stabilise Libya, secure its coast and tackle the migration crisis.
Leaders also discussed energy and climate change, and reiterated the need to move ahead with the momentous agreement reached in Paris last November to keep global temperature rise to below two degrees. Leaders underlined the importance of increasing women’s education and training, as well as providing greater access to science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, as set out in the G7 guiding principles for building the capacity of women and girls.
Finally, leaders underlined the need to continue supporting the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development goals. Leaders agreed that we must leave no one behind, and agreed that the 2030 Agenda lays the foundation for a more peaceful, stable, inclusive and prosperous international community. Significantly, G7 leaders reiterated their respective commitments to providing 0.7% of gross national income in overseas development assistance, where the UK is the only member to be meeting this target.
This was a successful summit for the UK, and I look forward to working with the Italian G7 presidency to take forward many of these important issues at next year’s G7 summit, which Prime Minister Renzi announced would be held in Sicily.
Monday 6 June 2016