It’s US & UK vs Germany & China at G20 summit – Financial News

July 7, 2017 Updated: 9:53 a.m. GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he arrives to attend the G20 summit in Hamburg Getty Images

By Harold James
July 7, 2017 Updated: 9:53 a.m. GMT

With global leadership now in question, the G20’s summit in Hamburg on July 7-8 could be the group’s tensest meeting ever.

The summit process long pre-dates the G20’s founding in 1999. It was originally designed, in the 1970s, to align major economies’ domestic policies, thereby reducing uncertainty. But domestic politics have now created a new type of uncertainty.

Whereas the international community isolated Russia at the G20 Brisbane summit in 2014, the US has isolated itself in 2017. After making a blustering appearance at the G7 Taormina summit this past May, US President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. In response, European G7 leaders, with the notable exception of British Prime Minister Theresa May, have signed a declaration condemning Trump’s position.

After serving as the main architects of the United Nations system and the post-1945 international order, the US and the United Kingdom now seem intent on reversing that legacy. Since Trump’s election and the Brexit referendum last year, both countries have embarked on an inconsistent and highly contested political path away from openness and multilateralism.

Their trajectories, while erratic, have been remarkably similar. Indeed, many saw the Brexit referendum as a precursor to Trump’s election. Like the “Leave” campaign, Trump has tapped into voters’ fears about immigration. And, like May’s post-referendum government, Trump’s administration has floundered in office. In both cases, a poorly conceived campaign has caught up to the victors. And as the winners have started to look like losers, the left-wing populism of more authentic politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders in the US and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the UK has become increasingly popular.

The Trump and May governments also share striking similarities in international outlook. Both want to renegotiate international deals, such as trade treaties or, in the British case, the relationship with Europe. But the basis for such renegotiation is as unclear as it is contradictory.

…(read more).

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