The G7 is being referred to as the “G6 plus one” as isolated U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin takes heat over that country’s controversial new tariffs.
With one week to go before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosts President Donald Trump and the other G7 leaders in Quebec’s Charlevoix region, advance meetings of G7 finance and development ministers in Whistler, B.C., show global trade threats are taking over the agenda.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Canadian reporters Friday that a clear message was delivered to Mr. Mnuchin during the Whistler talks.
“On trade this is a G6 plus one,” he said. “We have been attacked by those tariffs. We do not have any other choice but to respond … Friends should speak in a very clear manner to the United States. That is exactly what we did this morning with the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and I hope that it will be helpful to have a better G7 at the level of the heads of state next week.”
Still, Canada is facing pressure to manage the trade drama while also following through with its original plan for a gender-focused G7 summit.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva praised Canada’s decision to make empowerment of women the priority focus of next week’s G7 leaders’ summit.
“I do believe that we are at a very critical moment in history when the recognition of how desperate we are to capture the benefit of gender equality is finally sinking in,” she said. “Time has come that it cannot be ignored, for very strong economic reasons but also for ethical, values reasons.”
Ms. Georgieva is among the senior officials gathered this week in Whistler to hash out a firm direction for the leaders’ summit. This week, Canada announced retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of U.S. goods after the United States announced new tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he raised Canada’s strong concerns about the U.S. tariffs directly with Mr. Mnuchin during a private meeting Thursday evening and that objections would continue to be raised Friday.
“It’s certainly not going to be a positive discussion around the table,” Mr. Morneau said Friday.
Media reports have suggested there is some skepticism over Canada’s gender-focused agenda. One anonymous G7 official was quoted by Politico as saying: “It’s just about being nice to women, which is fine, but is that it?”
Mr. Morneau said his G7 counterparts showed “a very high level of engagement” Friday morning when finance and development ministers discussed issues related to gender.
“We actually talked about some pretty specific things,” he said, such as the importance of gathering data on how government policies affect women so that governments can produce gender-based budgets.
“I saw not only a lot of heads nodding around the table … but also I heard other nations saying we want to keep this discussion going in future G7 [meetings],” he said.
Malala Fund CEO Farah Mohamed said that, in her view, a successful leaders’ summit would express support for 12 years of girls’ education – backed by a funding pledge of US$1.3-billion in education-focused development aid over three years – and a commitment to keep the focus on gender issues when France hosts the G7 next year.
“I fully expect to see gender be dealt with very seriously and very prominently,” she said. “They are fully capable of multi-tasking and I expect that they will do that and I do not expect, nor do I think it’s acceptable, that gender will fall by the wayside.”