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This week, the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan will convene in England for the annual Group of 7 summit, a gathering of the world’s most powerful economies.

Here are some of the key issues that are likely to be at the forefront of their discussions.

Vaccine sharing and the coronavirus recovery

With G-7 nations on track on finish administering coronavirus vaccines to their adult populations in the coming months, pressure to share doses with developing nations is mounting. More than 100 former world leaders have urged the G-7 to cover two-thirds of the estimated $66 billion that it will cost to vaccinate low-income countries. A celebrity-backed appeal from UNICEF, meanwhile, asks the G-7 nations to donate 20% of their vaccine supplies by August.

Discussions are also likely to center on how to ensure that world economies bounce back from the pandemic, and what that recovery should look like. A report requested by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month concluded that the G-7 had a unique opportunity to rebuild by funding a transition to climate-friendly energy sources, and called for $10 trillion in investments.

Climate change

The looming crisis posed by climate change is expected to be one of the summit’s major themes. Although all the leaders in attendance have acknowledged the problem, they will face pressure to announce concrete policies designed to tackle it head-on. According to the Times, Johnson intends to press leaders to sign onto a climate “Marshall Plan” that would fund renewable energy projects in developing nations in Africa and Asia.

Australia, the only G-7 nation that has not pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, will probably be urged to do so, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Trade and taxing corporations

Ahead of the summit, G-7 nations reached a historic deal to set a minimum global corporate tax rate, aimed at ending the “race to the bottom,” in which companies move overseas to reduce their tax obligations. That agreement is only the first step, however: The Group of 20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development still have to sign off on the deal, and the process of rewriting international tax laws is expected to be long and complicated.

In the meantime, questions about the logistics of the arrangement have emerged, such as how leaders can guarantee that it will be approved and enforced by every country. There’s also some debate about whether the 15% minimum tax rate is high enough.

Last month, trade representatives from the G-7 countries signed a communique committing to “free and fair trade as foundational principles and objectives of the rules-based multilateral trading system.” Not everyone, however, agrees on how to get there.

President Joe Biden is expected to focus in part on preventing China from using trade relations to punish its critics. Johnson’s team has called for changing World Trade Organization regulations, with actors such as China in mind.

The Northern Ireland Protocol — a sensitive part of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union — will also probably top the trade agenda, as Biden and European leaders are expected to pressure Johnson not to renege on the pact.

Brexit

With the summit being held in Britain, the issues surrounding the country’s protracted exit from the European Union will be on full display. British newspapers reported Thursday that the Biden administration had issued a demarche — a formal diplomatic message — warning that the British government is “imperiling the Northern Ireland peace process over Brexit.”

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, told the BBC this week that “our concern runs very deep on the Northern Ireland issue” but did not link it to a proposed free trade agreement between Britain and the United States.

Tensions between Britain and E.U. member states also remain high, with Europeans starting legal action over alleged breaches of a long-delayed exit deal. One dispute has been dubbed the “Sausage War,” with Britain accused of delays in the enforcement of promised controls and inspections of goods passing between Britain and Northern Ireland across the Irish Sea.

Russia and Belarus

Biden has made it clear that he views the solidarity against autocratic nations one of his key aims of the summit - and notably, immediately after the gathering he will join Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for their first in-person meeting as world leaders.

In an op-ed published before his trip, Biden wrote at length about his meeting with the Russian leader, noting that Western countries will be standing “united to address Russia’s challenges to European security, starting with its aggression in Ukraine.”

Also at stake will be Putin’s ongoing support for Belarusian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko, who has refused to relinquish power despite mass protests following a disputed election last year, instead turning his state’s security forces on critics and activists.

Further sanctions on Belarus are expected to be debated at the summit. British government officials said last month that the G-7 would discuss “Belarus’s reckless and dangerous behavior” but would not agree to a request by France to invite opposition figures to the event.

Rebuilding international ties in the post-Trump era

Biden’s flight to Cornwall marked his first overseas trip as U.S. head of state — and the first face-to-face gathering of world leaders since Donald Trump’s presidency.

On the agenda for Biden will be mending and strengthening ties with U.S. allies following four years of Trump’s isolationist “America First” approach.

“We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future,” Biden said Wednesday after landing in Britain.

“Our alliances weren’t built by coercion or maintained by threats. They’re grounded in democratic ideals, a shared vision of the future, where every voice matters,” he said.

Biden has taken a far more adversarial stance than Trump against Putin. On Thursday, he warned Russia that there would be “robust and meaningful” repercussions if it engages in “harmful activities.”

Biden’s rhetoric has also centered on strengthening democratic institutions and combating autocracies, which Trump at times praised.

“We have to expose as false the narrative that the decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale” of current challenges, Biden said Wednesday. “You and I know they are wrong. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work harder than ever to prove that democracy can still deliver for our people.”

President Biden delivers remarks regarding on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House on May 20.
President Biden delivers remarks regarding on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House on May 20. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

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