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May 26-27, 2017: 43rd G7 summit sees newcomers and possible contrarian views

ITALY - The leaders of the Group of 7 (G7) nations meet in Taormina, Sicily. At least one newcomer to the group of major industrialized countries disdains traditional G7 aspirations as a matter of principle. Another newcomer, British Prime Minister Theresa May, might come seeking help.

United States President Donald Trump holds populist and isolationist views. He calls the United Nations a political game and scorns multilateral trade deals, a view that won’t sit well at the summit. It is possible that his unilateral military ventures in April will leave him with a need for powerful allies, a situation that could prompt him to soften the populist message.

Far right French presidential candidate Marine LePen will be another isolationist newcomer if she defeats the country’s mainstream candidates in the April-May election. She and Trump are unlikely to agree with anything the G7 proposes to address migration and the refugee crisis, which is still a pressing issue for the group.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who replaced David Cameron following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and herself faces a general election in early June, will be keen to secure G7 help in easing the economic pain of the exit.

The G7 summit brings together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. At the 42nd summit they advocated taking strict action against tax evasion, money laundering and other improper fund movements. The scale of all three was revealed in May 2016 by the so-called Panama Papers leak, which exposed how some of the world’s most powerful people use offshore bank accounts and shell companies to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.

Wrapping up the gathering with a sweeping declaration and action plans, the leaders acknowledged increasing risks for the global economic outlook, including terrorism, legions of displaced people, and conflicts that “pose a serious threat to the existing rule-based international order.”


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