G7 leaders pose for a group photo overlooking the beach at the Carbis Bay Hotel in Carbis Bay, St. Ives, Cornwall, England, Friday, June 11, 2021. Leaders from left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, chairman of the European Council Charles Michel, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Patrick Semansky, Associated Press)
CARBIS BAY, England (AP) – Group of Seven leaders on Friday pledged to share vaccine doses and make the world economy fairer at a seaside summit in England, where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke said the coronavirus pandemic should not be allowed to leave a “lasting scar” on the world.
Leaders of rich nations were all smiles and unity as Johnson greeted them on the freshly raked sands of Carbis Bay, but they scrambled to find out who was doing the most to help the world’s poorest nations fight COVID-19 .
Recovery from the pandemic was to dominate their discussions, and members of the Club of Wealthy Democracies pledged to share at least 1 billion vaccines with struggling countries. This includes a pledge from US President Joe Biden to share 500 million doses and a pledge from Johnson of 100 million more doses.
Opening three days of talks in Cornwall, southwest England, Johnson warned world leaders should not repeat mistakes made over the past 18 months – or those made during the recovery from the financial crisis World 2008.
“It is vital that we do not repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession of 2008, when the recovery was not uniform in all parts of society,” he said afterwards. that executives posed for an official “family photo”. ” by the sea.
“And I think what’s wrong with this pandemic, and what’s likely to be a lasting scar, is that I think inequalities can be entrenched,” Johnson added.
Leaders of the G-7 – which also includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – hope the meeting at the complex will also boost the global economy. Under a dark, brooding sky, the group walked away from the photo as happy as children who had just built a sand castle.
As Johnson led politicians off the beach, French President Emmanuel Macron put his arm around the shoulders of Biden, whom he was meeting for the first time. The White House later said the two had discussed COVID-19 and counterterrorism efforts in Africa’s Sahel region and would have a meeting on Saturday.
Faced with criticism that they monopolize vaccines, executives are competing to be the world champion of so many injured by the virus. With 3.7 million people lost in the pandemic, the world’s richest democracies are eager to champion the afflicted.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she hoped the summit would show the world “we don’t just think of ourselves”. Macron sought to emphasize this, noting that France has already shipped doses of vaccines to the world’s poor – and gently berating countries that have not done so by urging in a tweet for “clear goals” and “commitments concrete “.
For Johnson, the first G-7 summit in two years – last year’s one was scuttled by the pandemic – is an opportunity to articulate his vision of a post-Brexit “Global Britain” as than a medium-sized country with a disproportionate role at the international level. problem solving.
On Friday, Queen Elizabeth II – Britain’s biggest world star – traveled from Windsor Castle near London for a reception with the rulers and their wives at the Eden Project, a futuristic botanical garden housed in the domed interior that houses the world’s largest indoor rainforest.
Members of the royal family – including heir to the throne Prince Charles, his son Prince William and William’s wife Kate – joined the leaders for the reception and a dinner of roasted turbot, potatoes new Cornish and greens with wild garlic pesto cooked by a local chef.
The choice of a place with an ecological theme was deliberate. Climate change is also a high priority on the agenda, and hundreds of protesters have gathered in Cornwall to urge leaders to act, some disguised as sea creatures such as jellyfish. Protesters deployed a barge off the coast with two large inflatable figures on board representing Biden and Johnson.
The G-7 is also set to officially adopt a global minimum tax of at least 15% on multinational corporations, following a deal reached a week ago by their finance ministers. The minimum aims to prevent companies from using tax havens to shift profits and avoid taxes.
This represents a potential victory for the Biden administration, which has proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, and it fits with the president’s hope to focus the summit on ways democracies can work together. to build a more inclusive and just world. the global economy to help compete with rising autocracies like China.
The idea of a minimum tax also creates an alternative that could remove taxes on digital services from certain European countries that heavily hit American tech companies. But the approval of the G-7 is only one step in the process. The hope is to get many more countries to sign on – a heavy proposition in countries whose economies are based on attracting businesses with low corporate tax rates.
But the main issue of the day was vaccines and the growing pressure to define global vaccine sharing plans, especially as supply inequalities around the world became more pronounced. In the United States, there is a large stock of vaccines and the demand for vaccines has dropped sharply in recent weeks.
Biden said the United States would donate 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine over the next year, including 200 million by the end of 2021. This pledge was in addition to the 80 million doses Biden had given himself. already committed to donate by the end of June. The price of the doses has not been released, but the United States is now expected to be the biggest donor to the international COVAX vaccination effort, as well as its biggest funder.
Johnson said the first 5 million doses in the UK will be shared in the coming weeks, with the rest coming over the next year. Macron said France will share at least 30 million doses worldwide by the end of the year. Germany plans to donate the same amount. White House officials said on Friday that G-7 leaders had pledged a total of 1 billion doses.
The COVAX vaccination campaign got off to a slow start as wealthier countries locked in billions of doses through contracts directly with drug makers. The alliance has only distributed 81 million doses worldwide, and large parts of the world, especially in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.
Aid workers welcomed the new donations, but said the world needed more doses and sooner.
“We are still far from getting there,” said United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is due to attend the summit on Saturday as a guest.
“We need a concerted effort. We need a global immunization plan,” he added. “Otherwise, the risk is that there will still be large areas of the developing world where the virus is spreading like wildfire. “
Kirka reported from Falmouth, England. Associated Press editors Sylvia Hui in Falmouth and Jonathan Lemire in Plymouth, England also contributed to this report.
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