How Canada inspired the G7 to broaden its outlook

How Canada inspired the G7 to broaden its outlook
A street in Banff, amid the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. During a press briefing in March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the measures the leaders agreed on to tackle the virus. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 17 November 2020

How Canada inspired the G7 to broaden its outlook

How Canada inspired the G7 to broaden its outlook
  • The country helped set up the G20 to be the inclusive group it is today

DUBAI: “What the G20 says is, we are all in this together.” Sound familiar? If so, that may be because “we’re all in this together” has become one of the catchphrases of 2020’s coronavirus pandemic.

But this quote actually predates COVID-19. It was spoken in 2018 by the man sometimes referred to as the father of the G20: Paul Martin, Canada’s Liberal prime minister from 2003 to 2006.

It was Martin who, as Canada’s finance minister in the 1990s, looked around the Group of Seven (G7) and thought more countries should be invited to the forum for the world’s top so-called advanced economies. (Canada had been asked to join in 1976 almost as an afterthought, but more about that later.)

Martin talked to US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers about making it more inclusive. After the two drew up a list and presented it to the G7, the G20 was created as a parallel organization at the finance ministers’ level in 1999, with Martin as its first chairman.

It was at the G20 meeting in Montreal in 2000 that Canada championed moving the group beyond its financial mandate. The Montreal consensus on globalization affirmed that the benefits of economic growth should be more broadly shared and that the poor should be protected from the costs of globalization. 

“The G20 in my opinion is an essential tool because it represents the power of individual regions regardless of the state of your economy,” Martin said in an interview about the G20’s history on the website of the Center for International Governance Innovation.

“I tried very hard to get it up to the leaders’ level, having had something to do with its founding at the finance ministers’ level,” Martin said. “Everybody was on side, except the United States ... I was very sure, as were a number of us, it would take a crisis to bring it to the leaders’ level, and that’s exactly what happened (with) the 2008 crisis.”

After his minority Liberal government lost the 2006 election, Martin stepped down as leader, so ironically, he never got to pose alongside the G20 leaders in the summit’s traditional “class photo.” By the time the G20 reached the leaders’ level in 2008, holding its first summit in Washington that November in response to the global financial crisis, Conservative Stephen Harper was Canada’s prime minister.




Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

It was Harper who presided over the one G20 leaders’ summit hosted by Canada, held in Toronto in June 2010 as the world emerged from the economic recession. While that meeting was relatively uneventful, Harper shook things up at the Australian summit in 2014, when he took a stand against Russia’s annexation of the Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin left the summit early after Harper reportedly told him, while shaking his hand, to “get out of Ukraine.”

This stand appeared to fly in the face of his own wisdom, which Harper had shared at the 2009 summit in Pittsburgh, US: “Canada is big enough to make a difference but not big enough to threaten anybody. And that is a huge asset if properly used.” 

It’s an asset that, when properly used, has long gotten Canada invited to the party.

Pierre Trudeau, as Canada’s prime minister, had pushed to be invited to a 1975 meeting of leaders from the US, Britain, France, Italy, West Germany and Japan, dubbed the Group of Six, to discuss solutions to the oil crisis. While initially left out, Canada’s addition a year later made it the G7, and so it seems only fair that it would be the one in the future to push for others to be included.

At the G7 summit in 1976, Trudeau Sr. was already looking to expand the group’s purpose, saying its success should be measured beyond solving economic issues: “The success will be judged by whether we can influence the behavior of people in our democracies and perhaps even as important the behavior of people on the outside who are watching us, in a way in which they will have confidence that our type of economic and political freedom permits us to solve problems.”

We need to work together to have an impact that goes beyond our borders.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Justin Trudeau, the current Canadian prime minister, was a mere boy when his father spoke these words. Fast forward to November 2015, and it was at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya, Turkey that Justin made his heady debut on the world stage, less than two weeks after becoming prime minister. And while the young leader fired up “bromances” with former US President Barack Obama and later French President Emmanuel Macron at summits like this, much has been made about his awkward interactions with US President Donald Trump and Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro.

However, Canada has a global reputation to maintain as a bridge-builder, perhaps best exemplified by another of its Liberal prime ministers, Lester B. Pearson, who won the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to create the first UN peacekeeping force during the Suez crisis.

This bridge-building spirit was on display after Justin Trudeau attended the extraordinary virtual G20 summit called by Saudi King Salman on the COVID-19 pandemic this past March.

At a press briefing after the summit, Trudeau spoke of the measures the leaders agreed on to tackle COVID-19, including injecting the global economy with $5 trillion and pledging to help more vulnerable countries through organizations such as the UN and the World Health Organization. 

“We need to work together to have an impact that goes beyond our borders,” Trudeau pointed out.

Or, as G20 founder Paul Martin put it, “we are all in this together.”


US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing

US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing
Updated 7 min 32 sec ago

US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing

US oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing
  • The API is considering carbon pricing “among other policy solutions to reduce emissions and reach the ambitions of the Paris Agreement”

WASHINGTON: The American Petroleum Institute (API) is weighing endorsing a price on carbon emissions, a major shift after long resisting mandatory government climate policies, a source familiar with the decision making said.
The API, the main US oil industry lobby group that includes most of the world’s biggest oil companies, is considering carbon pricing “among other policy solutions to reduce emissions and reach the ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” the source said, confirming a report about the policy shift by the Wall Street Journal.
The group is confronting its previous resistance to regulatory action on climate change amid a shift in industry strategy on the issue and the new US presidency.
European member Total quit the group because of disagreements over API’s climate policies and support for easing drilling regulations and the Biden administration is pursuing a policy agenda that would shift the United States from fossil fuels.
A draft statement of the policy shift reviewed by the Wall Street Journal said the group does not endorse a specific carbon pricing tool such as a tax on carbon emissions or emissions trading scheme. The source said, however, that the group’s State of American Energy report released in January was supportive of a market-based carbon pricing policy.
The API did not comment on whether or when the group would formally endorse a price on carbon but said it has been working for nearly a year on an industry-wide response to climate change.
“Our efforts are focused on supporting a new US contribution to the global Paris agreement,” said API spokeswoman Megan Bloomgren.
Within API, there has been a widening rift between Europe’s top energy companies https://www.reuters.com/article/us-total-api/frances-total-quits-top-u-s-oil-lobby-in-climate-split-idUSKBN29K1LM, which over the past year accelerated plans to cut emissions and build large renewable energy businesses, and their US rivals Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. that have resisted growing investor pressure to diversify.
Other major industry groups like the USChamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, which includes Chevron, over the last year have endorsed market-based carbon pricing.
Chevron said it has engaged those groups and API “to support well-designed carbon pricing.”
“We support economy-wide carbon pricing as the primary policy tool to address climate change, applied across the broadest possible area to maximize environmental and economic efficiency and effectiveness,” Chevron spokesman Sean Comey said in an emailed statement.
BP and Shell declined to comment.


Dubai’s Emaar to buy out minority shareholders in malls unit

Dubai’s Emaar to buy out minority shareholders in malls unit
Updated 37 min 42 sec ago

Dubai’s Emaar to buy out minority shareholders in malls unit

Dubai’s Emaar to buy out minority shareholders in malls unit
  • Emaar Properties, which already owns close to 85 percent of Emaar Malls, will swap 0.51 of its own shares with shareholders of Emaar Malls

DUBAI: Dubai developer Emaar Properties on Tuesday said it was buying out minority shareholders of its shopping centre unit, less than a decade after floating shares in the company.

The all-share deal comes as both businesses have seen profits plunge over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic as fewer overseas visitors travel to Dubai.

Emaar Properties, which already owns close to 85 percent of Emaar Malls, will swap 0.51 of its own shares with shareholders of Emaar Malls, the two companies said.

That values Emaar Malls, which operates Dubai’s largest shopping centre, Dubai Mall, at 24 billion dirhams ($6.53 billion), according to Reuters calculations.

Each Emaar Malls share is valued at 1.85 dirhams in the deal, a 10 percent premium based on its last closing price, Reuters calculated.

Emaar Malls, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Emaar Properties, will continue to develop and operate shopping centres and retail assets, the companies said.

Emaar Properties, roughly 30 percent owned by state fund Investment Corp Dubai, will remain listed on the Dubai stock market.

Emaar Properties last month reported a 58 percent fall in 2020 net profit to 2.62 billion dirhams, while Emaar Malls’ yearly net profit dropped 70 percent to 704 million dirhams.

Emaar Properties raised about $1.6 billion listing Emaar Malls in 2014.


Changes in KSA so far just tip of the iceberg, Saudi PIF chief tells the ‘oil man’s Davos’

Changes in KSA so far just tip of the iceberg, Saudi PIF chief tells the ‘oil man’s Davos’
Updated 03 March 2021

Changes in KSA so far just tip of the iceberg, Saudi PIF chief tells the ‘oil man’s Davos’

Changes in KSA so far just tip of the iceberg, Saudi PIF chief tells the ‘oil man’s Davos’

DUBAI: Changes in Saudi Arabia in the past five years are just the “tip of the iceberg” of the transformation the Kingdom will experience under the Vision 2030 strategy and beyond, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Investment Fund, said on Tuesday.
“The things we’d like to achieve in 2030 will be our optimal way of starting the next phase, which is what we will do until 2040, or after that to 2050,” Al-Rumayyan told a virtual session of CERAWeek — the “oil man’s Davos” — in Houston, Texas.
“Our society is changing, the people are becoming more receptive to new ideas on how companies should work and how society should function, and even the social contract is changing. If you add all of these together, you will have an idea of what Saudi Arabia, by embracing and implementing Vision 2030, will look like in nine years,” he said.
Al-Rumayyan, who is also chairman of Saudi Aramco, said plans remained in place to sell more shares in the world’s biggest oil company, after the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in history in 2019 when it sold less than 2 percent of its shares.
“From the very beginning we said we would be selling more of the shares owned by the government; once we see market conditions improving, and more appetite from different investment institutions and investors, we will definitely consider selling more shares,” he said.
He also underlined the Kingdom’s ambitions in renewable energy and hydrogen fuels. “Aramco is interested in renewables, believe it or not. It is the largest oil and gas company on the planet, but we are thinking of ourselves as an energy and petrochemical company.”
He told Daniel Yergin, the Pulitzer prize-winning oil historian, that PIF would invest $40 billion a year in Saudi Arabia to “stimulate the economy and
create jobs.”
 


Saudi forum to showcase key projects

Saudi forum to showcase key projects
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi forum to showcase key projects

Saudi forum to showcase key projects
  • The Future Projects Forum aims to showcase future projects in the Middle East

Saudi Contractors Authority (SCA) will hold the Future Projects Forum (FPF) virtually during March 22-24.

The FPF will include the participation of more than 37 government and private  entities to present around 1,000 projects with an estimated total value exceeding SR600 billion ($16 billion).

The Future Projects Forum aims to showcase future projects in the Middle East. It also aims to create opportunities for contractors and investors via identifying details of future projects in the contracting sector and knowing the mechanism of qualification and competition.

The forum seeks to develop a wide network of relationships between contractors, investors and interested parties, in addition to creating partnerships between them.

 The number of delivered residential real estate projects increased from SR12.4 billion ($3.3 billion) in 2019 to SR13.9 billion in 2020.


Bahrain expects $3.2bn deficit in 2021, 5% economic growth

Bahrain expects $3.2bn deficit in 2021, 5% economic growth
Updated 03 March 2021

Bahrain expects $3.2bn deficit in 2021, 5% economic growth

Bahrain expects $3.2bn deficit in 2021, 5% economic growth
  • Bahrain’s economy contracted by 5.4% last year, the IMF estimated, as the COVID-19 pandemic hurt vital sectors such as energy and tourism
  • The tiny Gulf state, which based the 2021-2022 budget on an oil price assumption of $50 a barrel, expects the economy to grow 5% this year

DUBAI: Bahrain expects to post a deficit of 1.2 billion dinars ($3.20 billion) in 2021, state news agency BNA said, citing the finance ministry.
The oil-producing Gulf state projected a budget of 3.6 billion dinars for 2021 with revenues expected to amount to 2.4 billion dinars, BNA said.
For next year, total expenditure is estimated at 3.57 billion dinars, against total revenues of 2.46 billion dinars, resulting in a slightly lower deficit of 1.1 billion dinars.
Bahrain’s economy contracted by 5.4% last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated, as the COVID-19 pandemic hurt vital sectors such as energy and tourism.
The tiny Gulf state, which based the 2021-2022 budget on an oil price assumption of $50 a barrel, expects the economy to grow 5% this year, BNA said late on Tuesday.
Sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat will double its contributions to government revenues, said the agency, as Bahrain seeks to boost non-oil revenues.
Bahrain has accumulated a large pile of debt since the 2014-2015 oil price shock. In 2018 it received a $10 billion financial aid program from Gulf allies that helped it avoid a credit crunch.
BNA cited Finance and Economy Minister Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa as saying that the country remains committed to achieving the objectives of the fiscal balance program — a set of fiscal reforms linked to the financial aid.
“This budget makes clear Bahrain’s continued commitment to the Fiscal Balance Program, despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, with core government expenditure remaining under tight control,” the minister was quoted as saying.
Public debt rose to 133% of GDP last year from 102% in 2019, the IMF has said, cautioning that the country needs to reduce government debt once economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis firms up.