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Issue Guide: G8 Summit 2013

Author: Zachary Laub, Senior Copy Editor/Writer
June 14, 2013


Trade liberalization, tax reform, and transparency in development are expected to dominate the agenda at the 2013 G8 summit. While some critics have called this agenda unambitious--previous summits have focused on eradicating poverty or resolving the financial crisis, for example--CFR's Stewart Patrick commends its "manageable" scope. The June gathering is meant to emulate the original G8 summit in Rambouillet, France, in 1975, where leaders candidly discussed the economic problems of the day. Despite the intimate atmosphere, however, UK prime minister David Cameron faces formidable obstacles in building consensus among fellow heads of state, and the official agenda may be overshadowed by the ongoing civil war in Syria and the politically fraught transatlantic trade deal, among other urgent concerns.

Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron speaks at the G8 UK Innovation Conference in London June 14, 2013. (Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/Courtesy Reuters)
The Trade and Finance Agenda

Economist: The Transparency Summit
With outrage over corporate tax evasion among the public and policymakers gaining momentum, the Economist argues that the prospects for global reform of tax compliance and corporate-ownership transparency are stronger than ever.

WSJ: Op-Ed: David Cameron: A British-American Tax and Trade Agenda
The British prime minister makes the case for making the EU-U.S. free trade agreement the centerpiece of a global trade liberalization agenda.

FT: G8 Leaders Braced for Battle on Evasion
The Financial Times' Vanessa Holder looks at the G8's opportunities for cracking down on tax evasion, tax avoidance, and corruption in extractive industries, as well as the political challenges to implementing these reforms.

Reuters: No Quick Fix for Corporate Tax Take as Pressure to Act Builds
Even as tax avoidance schemes by major corporations have brought heightened attention to the need for internationally synchronized tax reform, high-level talks may be insufficient to overcome political resistance, write John O'Donnell and Huw Jones.

NYT: EU Official Pushes U.S. to Explain Its Surveillance
Recent revelations about the U.S. Prism program collecting data on foreigners abroad have brought heightened attention to disagreement between the United States and European Union over online privacy, jeopardizing a long-sought trade pact, writes James Kanter.

Reuters: U.S. Hopes NSA Surveillance Won't Derail Data Trade Goals
One U.S. objective in transatlantic trade negotiations is lowering the barriers to moving electronic data across borders--a prerequisite to cloud computing--but recent revelations about the extent of U.S. surveillance have given new life to the legal case for requiring firms to maintain local servers, writes Doug Palmer.

EurActiv: EU-U.S. Trade Talks Falter With France Audiovisual Spat
France, seeking a "cultural exception" in EU-U.S. trade talks, has threatened to veto the agreement if television and digital media are not exempted. The United States is adamantly opposed, writes Daniela Vincenti.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Speech at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos
The British prime minister outlined an agenda for the G8 this past January in Davos, focusing on spurring economic growth while leveling the global-trade playing field.

The Security and Development Agenda

G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting Statement
In a preparatory meeting for the summit, foreign ministers reached agreements on preventing sexual violence in conflict and supporting the Deauville Partnership, which provides political and financial support for Arab countries in transition, among other issues, but failed to reach meaningful consensus on the question of Syria.

CFR Interview: Doubts Over U.S.-Russia Push for Syria Peace
As discussions continue between Russia and the United States on an international conference to broker a settlement between Syrian rebels and the Assad regime, CFR's Stephen Sestanovich discusses the view from Moscow.

Guardian: How Lack of Food Security Is Failing a Starving World
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a product of last year's summit, has raised substantial private funds while bringing together philanthropists, the private sector, and African countries. China, Africa's biggest trading partner, was not invited to talks, however, and some charge corporate interests undermine the initiative's objectives.

NYT Op-Ed: Kofi Annan: Stop the Plunder of Africa
The former UN secretary-general writes that "no region has suffered more from tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and plunder of national wealth through offshore-registered companies" than Africa. A multilateral solution, such as those advocated for by Cameron, could have the same effect as doubling aid to the region.

Guardian Editorial: David Cameron Is Irresponsible to Omit Climate Change
Despite scientific consensus and a spate of destabilizing weather events, the UK's agenda for the G8 summit does not contain "a single mention" of climate change, an omission that is "simply baffling--and irresponsible in the extreme," the Guardian writes.

Maintaining Member States' Compliance

UK Department for International Development: Lough Erne G8 Accountability Report
This self-assessment, published in advance of the 2013 summit, finds that G8 member states have generally made good progress in fulfilling development commitments made over the past eleven years.

Overseas Development Institute: Lough Erne Accountability Report Comments by ODI
The British think tank issues a "lower--but still positive--assessment" of the G8's performance in international development. The report, which challenges the official evaluation's methodologies, makes the case for greater ambition among G8 states and "more robust and independent scrutiny of the delivery record."

The International Context

CFR: Britain's Place in Europe
With momentum for a "Brixit"--the UK's exit from the European Union--growing among both the British population and David Cameron's ministers, CFR's Charles Kupchan and the Peterson Institute's Adam Posen discuss the United Kingdom's future role in Europe.

New Statesman: From G8 to G20 to G-Zero
Political risk analyst Ian Bremmer argues that in the absence of crisis-induced urgency, summits are little more than "choreographed pageantry." Established and emerging powers, all with competing interests and focused on domestic challenges, are not willing and able to lead on "problems without borders."

CFR Blog: The Group of Eight Summit: One Pillar of Today's 'G-x World'
In a rejoinder to Bremmer's "G-Zero" argument, CFR's Stewart Patrick says that states successfully pursue collective action in a variety of ad hoc forums. Among them, he writes, "the G8 retains unique advantages as a minilateral forum for political and macroeconomic coordination."

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