The upcoming G7 summit focuses on global economic issues and conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Pending international trade agreements and ongoing debt crises around the world will dominate the conversation.
“Debt, tax and trade issues will take center stage at this year’s meeting,” noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network. LeCompte was in Dresden, Germany, for last week’s G7 Finance Ministers gathering. “It’s right that economic stability is a priority on the agenda. Inequality and poverty drive conflict and instability around the world.”
Prior to the summit, G7 Finance Ministers met in Dresden, Germany, to address debt and tax issues. During the finance minister meetings, Jubilee Germany organized a prayer service led by Dresden’s religious leaders that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble attended. The Dresden Catholic Bishop and leading Protestant Bishop called on the G7 to enact a global bankruptcy system for countries to address global
poverty and inequality.
“Religious leaders in Germany are calling on the G7 to challenge the policies that cause poverty,” said LeCompte. “A global bankruptcy process is critical to ending extreme poverty.”
The United Nations is currently in negotiations to create a bankruptcy process after the UN General Assembly approved three resolutions last year. Development on aspects of global bankruptcy continue at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well.
This year, debt and tax problems are prominent in Europe, home to a majority of G7 countries. Latest reports note that the Greek crisis will be discussed, but not on the official agenda. Greece may not meet upcoming IMF payments. It is currently negotiating with the European Union (EU), European Central Bank and IMF to receive additional emergency funding to avoid a default or exit from the EU.
Greece is the third-most indebted country in the world and the most-indebted in Europe. It is pledging to crack down on tax avoidance as part of the reforms it submitted to its lenders earlier this year. In 2013, the then-G8 (which included Russia) released the Lough Erne Declaration, calling for comprehensive action to stop tax avoidance to benefit poor countries.
“Debt and tax avoidance harm development in poor countries,” stated LeCompte. “Greece is just a reminder that these problems are now global.”
The summit will also address trade policy as negotiations continue around the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which includes three G7 nations. The US House of Representatives is preparing to debate granting President Barack Obama Trade Promotion Authority to ease the TPP’s passage. That debate could begin formally as early as next week.
“We need trade pacts that protect the vulnerable and seek to diminish poverty,” said LeCompte. ”I’m concerned about some of the proposed trade arbitration mechanisms that can exploit poor populations.”
The meeting brings together heads of state from Japan, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. At last year’s summit, G7 leaders pledged to tackle tax avoidance and deal with mounting global debt issues.
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee’s mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world’s poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org