1 year ago


Building resilience IN

Building resilience IN CONVERSATION US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was our biggest foreign policy error since the Iraq War Editor John Kirton speaks to Larry Summers about prospects for the Hamburg Summit Q What are the prospects for the Hamburg Summit? A I view this G20 with more trepidation than ever before. The Hamburg Summit will test the viability of the G20 as a useful forum during the years of Donald Trump’s presidency. Q What was the vision you and Paul Martin had when you co-founded the G20 in 1999? A The premise of the G20 is that there is a global community that can sometimes forge win-win agreements that are in the mutual interest of all. That was what Paul Martin and I had in mind when we worked to establish the group at the finance ministers’ level in 1999. And it is what Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama intended in 2008 and 2009 when the group started meeting at heads’ level. Q Do the leaders at Hamburg share that vision today? A Trump has implied and his leading advisers have stated that there is “no such thing as a global community”only the continuing struggle among countries and businesses for advantage. If the leading country in the world has that attitude, it is hard to see what a group like the G20 can do. Q What is the most important challenge the Hamburg Summit will confront? A The most important test of success this year will be whether the other members can persuade or pressurise the United States to renew its commitment to global collective action to solve essential problems. An increasingly assertive and nationalist Russia and China will not be reluctant to fill voids left by a United States posture of withdrawal from global leadership. A repeat of the kind of US isolation we saw at the G7’s Taormina Summit in May could have lasting consequences. Trust takes a long time to build but only a short time to dissipate. US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was our biggest foreign policy error since the Iraq War. It will demoralise the global effort against global climate change, hurt our economy by damaging renewable energy interests and sacrifice our credibility globally. 50 G20 Germany: The Hamburg Summit • July 2017

Building resilience Q How long do G20 leaders have to socialise President Trump into the cooperative culture of the G20? A Things take longer to happen than anyone thinks they will and then happen faster than anyone thought they could. The effects of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union are only starting to be felt. It took time for the narrow-minded pursuit of parochial interest that defined Versailles to have its terrible consequences. US abdication of global leadership on economic integration and trade, on development, and on global challenges such as climate change and pandemic risk could well have catastrophic consequences. With political renewal in France, economic strengthening and the turning inward of the United Kingdom and the United States, this is continental Europe’s hour. Europe should move boldly, as a France is suggesting, to provide the necessary underpinnings for its common currency. It must take on greater defence responsibilities, and must turn outwards rather than inwards and set a global direction on issues ranging from climate change to the Middle East to Africa’s development. Larry Summers Charles W Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University Q What other key issues must the Hamburg Summit address effectively? A We have only seen the beginning of refugee challenges. If we do not find ways of supporting more security, stability and prosperity in Africa, there will be grave humanitarian consequences, and major implications for the security of the developed world. Strengthening efforts for Africa as host country Germany is suggesting is not just morally right. It is the most effective forward defence of key security interests. Q What challenges does the global economy produce? A This year the biggest risks to the global economy may be geopolitical. Satisfactory if not impressive growth is the norm. It will be important to avoid collectively the kind of premature policy normalisation that has cut off recoveries in the past. G20 July 2017G20 Germany: The Hamburg Summit 51

G20-2015 Turkey