UK and US to sign new 'Atlantic charter' – and other things to look out for at the G7 summit

Thu 10 Jun 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

As the leaders of the G7 nations descend on Cornwall for the first physical meeting of the world’s most powerful economies in two years, there’s a lot of business to be done.

Here the Daily Update identifies some of the most relevant themes to look out for during the conference:

1) Atlantic Charter

There is an awkward conversation due around the Northern Ireland Protocol, but prime minister Boris Johnson and US president Joe Biden will be at one when they unveil a new ‘Atlantic Charter’ for cooperation on global strategic issues, including the rise of China, according to the FT

That mid-Second World War (August 1941) charter started the ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK.

With both sides trying to reset the UK-US relationship during Biden’s first presidential trip abroad, they have decided to sign a charter, echoing the 80 year-old accord made between Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt as they mapped out a post-war global order.

This afternoon Johnson and Biden viewed copies of the 1941 Atlantic Charter when they met in Cornwall ahead of the G7 summit.

The new charter will outline eight areas of co-operation, including building a fair trading system, defending democracy, reaffirming the importance of collective security and dealing with cyber-attack.

2) Corporate taxation

The recently agreed global corporation tax regime will also be on the agenda, with fears that opposition in the US is already threatening the proposal to levy a minimum 15% corporate tax, the Times reports. 

According to the FT, “special pleading” has already started with some nations already scrambling for exemptions. The UK is lobbying for exemptions for financial services while other countries with large financial sectors, such as France, are expected to look for a carve out.   

3) Get US-UK travel back

Biden and Johnson could also discuss the return of transatlantic travel, according to the Telegraph, which says a task force will report back with recommendations next month (July), offering the hope of US holidays later this summer.

The prime minister wrote in the Times to reiterate his view the summit is the UK’s chance to show its values of “openness, freedom and democracy”. 

4) WTO reform

Australia is pressing G7 nations to push for WTO reform to counter China, according to the FT.  The country has been hit by punitive trade measures by China as relations between the country deteriorated during the pandemic.

China has been referred to the WTO by Australia over tariffs on barley and wants to do the same over wine tariffs. The effectiveness of the WTO was stymied by Donald Trump who blocked appointments and refused to cooperate with a body his administration described as “completely inadequate”, reported the Guardian.

5) US belt and road plan

According to the Guardian, Biden wants to counter growing Chinese influence with a western version of its belt and road plan, which is helping China achieve greater global sway through massive infrastructure investment.

The G7 will roll out a green rival to belt and road with US rallying support to confront China, reports the South China Morning Post. Joe Biden described the scheme as a “high standard alternative to China for upgrading physical, digital and health infrastructure”.

In a sign of US political mood, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill spending a quarter trillion dollars over five years in R&D to beat China in the race for technological advantage.