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Daily Brief: G7 Summit Kicks Off With Warning on Global Economy

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May 26, 2016

Daily News Brief

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G7 Summit Kicks Off With Warning on Global Economy

G7 leaders are gathered in Japan where they will discuss the global economy, the refugee crisis, terrorism, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared the current slowdown in emerging economies to the 2008 global financial crisis (Reuters) as members discussed fiscal stimulus measures to spur world economic growth. Japan is expected to ask the G7 to expand infrastructure spending by $200 billion (DW). The EU and Japan agreed to speed up the completion of a proposed trade deal (Guardian), which could come into effect as early as next year. On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. leader to visit Hiroshima (Japan Times). Separately, crude oil futures broke $50 a barrel during Asian trading Thursday, the highest price since November (WSJ).


"While the gatherings used to be major milestones in the governance of the global economic system, they have steadily declined in significance in line with the group’s waning domination of the world economy. The G-7 continues to meet as a close-knit club of wealthy countries (Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., Italy, Japan, and the United States) with similar interests, but its governance role has been largely supplanted by gatherings of more diversified groups—such as the G-20, which accounts for 85 percent of global GDP, 75 percent of world trade, and about two-thirds of the world’s population—that can make greater claim to being representative of participating countries. The G-7’s share of global GDP has fallen from 68 percent in 1992 to 47 percent in 2015. And the absence of the world’s second largest economy (China) is a glaring illustration of its 'old-boy' makeup," Barry P. Bosworth writes for the Brookings Institute.

"A major common problem that deserves their attention is the unsustainable increase in the major developed countries' national debt. Failure to address the explosion of government borrowing will have adverse effects on the global economy and on debt-burdened countries themselves. The problem is bad and getting worse almost everywhere. In the United States, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government debt doubled over the past decade, from 36% of GDP to 74% of GDP," Martin Feldstein writes for Project Syndicate.

"The symbolism of this G7 for the United States and Japan should not be underestimated; coming on the heels of last year’s difficult year of World War II commemorations in Asia, the challenge for G7 leaders is how to weave together the shared problems of Asia, Europe, and the United States. As host this year, Abe would like to see the G7 reassert its role of global leadership in an increasingly complex and worrisome world," writes CFR's Sheila Smith in this Expert Brief.


Chinese Official Warns of Tensions With Taiwan

The head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office told a meeting of Taiwanese businesspersons that cross-strait affairs would face "tension and turbulence" if the new Taiwanese government did not adhere to the so-called "One China" principle (SCMP). The new president from Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai Ing-wen, has expressed more reluctance to Beijing ties than the previous ruling Kuomintang party.


Sri Lanka Office to Search for Civil Conflict's Missing People

Sri Lanka's new Office of Missing Persons will investigate the disappearances of more than twenty thousand people during the decades-long conflict between the government and the separatist Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009. The body will be asked to recommend compensation to families (BBC) and empower families to take legal action.

INDIA: A representative from the African diplomatic corps to India threatened to stop sending students to India after a Congolese student was murdered in New Delhi (FT). The Eritrean ambassador, Alem Tsehange Woldemariam, demanded stronger measures to ensure the safety of African students and urged officials to launch public awareness campaigns to combat "racism and Afro-phobia in India."


Italian Coast Guard: 5,600 Migrants Saved in Rescue Operations

The Italian coast guard said 5,600 migrants were rescued in twenty-three separate missions off the shores of Libya (AFP) in the span of forty-eight hours; thirty-seven thousand migrants have been brought to Italian shores from the waters off Libya this year.

CFR's Stewart M. Patrick and Theresa Lou write that "little headway" was made at the World Humanitarian Summit to address the migration crisis in this blog post.

ISRAEL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would name ultra-nationalist former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman as the country's defense minister (FT). Israel's previous defense minister, Moshe Ya'alon, resigned last week, warning that the ruling party and Israel were being taken over by "extremist and dangerous elements."


UN Lifts Final Sanctions on Liberia

The United Nations Security Council lifted the final sanctions on Liberia (VOA), which had been under some form of UN sanctions since 1992. The UN also ended an arms embargo on the country (Africa News).

ZIMBABWE: A few thousand demonstrators appeared in Harare in favor of President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1980 (Al Jazeera). The protest was a counter to demonstrations organized last month that called on Mugabe to step down (Guardian).


France's Energy Sector Strikes Grow as Nuclear Workers Join

A week of strikes over labor reforms in France has left the country tapping into its strategic fuel reserves (FT) for the first time in six years. Employees at nuclear power plants were expected to join the strike on Thursday (AFP).  

AZERBAIJAN: Azeri investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was freed from prison following international condemnation from press advocacy groups and Western governments (RFE). Her imprisonment came after she published reports linking President Ilham Aliyev's family to corruption.


ECLAC Encourages Debt Relief for Caribbean Nations

The head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said lenders should consider debt relief for some Caribbean nations debts as the countries deal with natural disasters, the effects of climate change, and external shocks (LAHT).

BRAZIL: The state of Rio de Janeiro missed an $8 million foreign debt payment to the French Development Agency (WSJ). Rio owes $20 billion to the federal government and nearly $10 billion to foreign creditors.

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