Belfast Telegraph

Home News Politics

PM David Cameron calls for G8 leadership on trade

David Cameron has gone into his first G8 summit as Prime Minister with a warning to fellow world leaders that the annual gatherings must be "more than just grand talking shops".

The self-styled "new kid on the block" called for "fresh thinking and renewed political leadership" on issues like trade, aid and the global economy, and said the summits should focus on delivering concrete results which are relevant to the public back home.

And, in a break from the practice of Labour predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, he indicated he would not treat the gatherings as an opportunity to launch eye-catching new initiatives, but would focus on driving through key existing priorities. Much-hyped G8 summitry had too often in the past failed to deliver the changes the world needs, he said.

This weekend's G8 and G20 summits in Canada take place against a backdrop of stalled trade negotiations, a failure to meet aid targets and disagreement over the best way to lift the world out of recession.

The PM urged other members of the G8 and G20 groupings - which bring together the world's major economies - to set out plans for getting their national finances under control, as Britain did in Chancellor George Osborne's emergency budget on Tuesday.

While giving continued backing to the long-running Doha trade talks, Mr Cameron signalled that the UK is ready to go it alone in striking up bilateral trade agreements with other states in order to try to make progress on issues which have been mired in negotiations for a decade.

In an article in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper ahead of the Muskoka summit of the G8, Mr Cameron said: "Too often these international meetings fail to live up to the hype and to the promises made. I'm sure other leaders would admit that.

"A lot of money is spent laying them on. Host cities are disrupted for days or even weeks. The cavalcades roll into town. Good intentions are shared in productive talks. Then somehow those intentions seem rarely to come to fruition in real, tangible global action. And when we meet again a year later, we find things haven't really moved on. So the challenge for the upcoming G8 and G20 is to be more than just grand talking shops."

He added: "If we want to make a difference, we need a tight focus on what we actually want to achieve, with leaders - including me - being willing to be held to account and made to live up to our promises. We need to show people that we can get real results - by concentrating on key priorities and then driving them through relentlessly year after year."

Leaders of the G8 group - UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, and Japan - will meet for two days in the secluded resort town of Deerhurst, well away from potential protests, to discuss issues like development aid and international security. The leaders will move on to Toronto on Saturday for discussions on the world economy with the wider G20 group, which includes major economies like China, India and South Africa.


From Belfast Telegraph