No Governance, No Party

July 20, 2009

Paola Subacchi

Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House

Despite the worst expectations in the weeks before the summit, the G8 gathering in L’Aquila handed over neither a significant outcome nor an embarrassing disaster. Participants seemed pleased with the Italians who were praised for their excellent job in managing the whole choreography and delivering a great party. The Italian organisers must felt relieved, especially as some commentators seemed prepared to support Italy’s expulsion from the G8 on the ground of poor organisational skills and its Prime Minister’s penchant for scandals.

The idea that Italy was risking the expulsion hit the main headlines in the first day of the summit, with no further follow-up. But it is disconcerting and interesting at the same time. It is disconcerting because of the implicit assumption that the G8 membership could be decided on the basis of how efficient a country is in organising a meeting and how effective, and credible, the leadership of the hosting leader is. But the organising country does not equate the entire G8 even if it plays an important role in shaping the summit, and determining its relevance.

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Japan’s Position in the G8 Club

July 9, 2009

As a member of the G8, Japan often does not get the attention it deserves. Perhaps more than in any member country, domestic politics have dictated Japan’s engagement in the summit process and the issues it chooses to discuss through this forum. A year after the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, there is a different Japanese leader in the G8 “family photo” and likely to be another one before the next summit begins.

In this video, Andrew F. Cooper interviews Hugo Dobson – Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield – to discuss the differences between the 2008 and 2009 summits and the factors that play into Japan’s performance in the G8 process. First and foremost, he points to the more relaxed atmosphere in L’Aquila where activities at Toyako were quite regimented and organized. Press briefings by the Japanese foreign ministry have been conducted in a much more informal manner, contrasting starkly with last year.

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The Latest on Currency: Lula Steps Up at G8

July 9, 2009

Lula2Gregory Chin
Senior Fellow, CIGI

On the eve of their meeting with the G8, the G5 group of major emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa – discussed the use of their own currencies to settle trade accounts among themselves, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters. According to Menon, the suggestion to explore this possibility came from Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Menon wanted to clarify that this does not mean the G5 having a new currency or alternative reserve currency. China, Russia, Brazil, France, and to a lesser degree India had expressed an interest in the talks between G5 and G8 leaders due on Thursday including debate on seeking long-term alternatives to the US dollar as the global reserve currency. Brazil and China have, of course, already established arrangements to settle a portion of their trade in their own currencies.

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L’Aquila Bends the G8 Model Out of Shape

July 8, 2009


Andrew F. Cooper
Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, CIGI

The G8 Summit at L’Aquila is a study in contradictions. The Italian presidency’s approach remains a languid one amidst an intense global recession. Here, style trumps substance. The site of the summit – re-located at the last moment in sympathy with the victims of the devastating earthquake is still a work in progress. The host government from the start lacked any overarching vision for the Summit. The brand trotted out in the last few weeks, that L’Aquila represented a “summit of principles”, crumbled quickly amidst its inconsistency with the scandals associated with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The United States tried to rescue the G8 by taking on some elements of leadership. Key sherpa meeting were called and shaped by American officials. A big delivery has been promised in the form of a major initiative on food security. Yet, these moves can not mask the reality that the US has already moved on from prioritizing L’Aquila to focus its attention on the Pittsburgh G20 on September 24-25. Read the rest of this entry »

Dilemmas in Renewing US Multilateralism

July 8, 2009

As US President Barack Obama attends his first G8 summit, questions linger on his ability to renew American  multilateralism. While the new president has certainly developed enormous goodwill among other major countries, critical tests of his interest in utilizing multilateral institutions to address economic and security issues remain on the horizon.

In this video, Andrew F. Cooper interviews Keith Porter – Director of Policy and Outreach at the Stanley Foundation – on the anticipated renewal of US multilateral activities and what types of policies it can take to make the world more secure.  The G8 and G20 Summits, in his view, provide a stage for sorting out many of these types of questions as the informal agenda of this “rolling meeting” of important world leaders opens up avenues for targetted multilateralism.

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Up Up and Away: Hu Leaves G8 Before it Begins

July 8, 2009


Gregory Chin
Senior Fellow, CIGI

Some air has just been let out of the G8 balloon. Chinese President Hu Jintao has left the G8 Summit in L’Aquila Italy, to return home to deal with domestic unrest in China’s far western autonomous region, Xinjiang – leaving him unable to attend the Day Two meetings between the G8 and the “G5” emerging economies. Hu has left behind Dai Bingguo, State Councilor to represent China’s top leader.

Dai Bingguo is no slouch inside the Party command. In addition to being the government executive that is most responsible for overseeing the country’s foreign affairs, Dai is the director of the office of the Party’s powerful Leading Small Group for Foreign Affairs, and the office of the Party’s Leading Group on National Security. He is a key official in the new Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the US and China, and a point person on China’s relations with Africa and the Arab world. Dai Bingguo is clearly a safe pair of hands both inside the Party and government hierarchy. Read the rest of this entry »

G8 L’Aquila: Deflecting a post-G8 Moment?

July 7, 2009

Growing antipathy in the G8 process, largely as a result of the successful operation of two G20 summits, has constrained the Italian hosts of the 2009 session to be held in L’Aquila this week. Various formations of multilateral meetings seem to be crowding out the traditional central decision-shaping role of the G8 club.

In this video, Gregory Chin interviews Dr. Paola Subacchi – Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House – to discuss the momentum of the G20 process, how the Italian presidency has managed this competition, and the possibility of a G2 condominium of power between the United States and China.

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