G7 in multibillion-dollar pledge to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative

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G7 in multibillion-dollar pledge to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative

By Andrea Shalal

Schloss Elamau, Germany: Group of Seven (G7) leaders on Sunday pledged to raise $US600 billion ($846 billion) in private and public funds over five years to finance infrastructure in developing countries and counter China’s multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project.

US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders relaunched the newly renamed Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment at their annual gathering in Schloss Elmau in southern Germany.

US President Joe Biden speaks at the  G7 summit in Bavaria on Sunday as  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looks on.

US President Joe Biden speaks at the G7 summit in Bavaria on Sunday as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looks on.Credit:AP

Biden said the United States would mobilise $US200 billion in grants, federal funds and private investment over five years to support projects in low- and middle-income countries that help tackle climate change and improve global health, gender equity and digital infrastructure.

“I want to be clear – this isn’t aid or charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone.” Biden said, adding that it would allow countries to “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies.”

Biden said hundreds of billions of additional dollars could come from multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds and others.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the gathering Europe would mobilise €300 billion ($456 billion) for the initiative over the same period to build up a sustainable alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative, which Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2013.

The leaders of Italy, Canada and Japan also spoke about their plans, some of which have already been announced. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were not present, but their countries are also participating.

The G7 meeting comes ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid later this week that is also expected to address the influence of China.

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China’s investment scheme involves development and programs in over 100 countries aimed at creating a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route from Asia to Europe.

White House officials said the plan has provided little tangible benefit for many developing countries.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin as the G7 leaders sat down to meet on Sunday. Also pictured 
are (left to right) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US President Joe Biden, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi,  German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin as the G7 leaders sat down to meet on Sunday. Also pictured are (left to right) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US President Joe Biden, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.Credit:The New York Times

Biden highlighted several flagship projects, including a $US2 billion solar development project in Angola that is being run in partnership with the Commerce Department, the US Export-Import Bank, US firm AfricaGlobal Schaffer and US project developer Sun Africa.

Together with G7 members and the EU, Washington will also provide $US3.3 million in technical assistance to Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal as it develops an industrial-scale vaccine manufacturing facility.

In addition, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will commit up to $US50 million over five years to the World Bank’s global Childcare Incentive Fund.

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Friederike Roder, vice president of the non-profit group Global Citizen, said the investment could lead to greater engagement by G7 countries in developing nations and could underpin stronger global growth for all.

G7 countries on average provide only 0.32 per cent of their gross national income, less than half of the 0.7 per cent promised, in development assistance, she said.

“But without developing countries, there will be no sustainable recovery of the world economy,” she said.

G7 leaders mock Putin

The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment was a keynote announcement on a day otherwise dominated by the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in one of his famous bare-chested poses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in one of his famous bare-chested poses.Credit:AP

Earlier, the seven leaders had openly mocked the macho image of their absent adversary Vladimir Putin as they sat down for their first meeting of the three-day summit in the sweltering Bavarian Alps.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked if their jackets should come off – or if they should even disrobe further.

“We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” Johnson said to laughter from some of his colleagues.

“Bare-chested horseback riding,” shot back Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

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“Oh yes,” said von der Leyen. “Horseback riding is the best.”

Putin, who prizes his sporty image, has been pictured shirtless several times in photos released by Russian state media, including one set in which he rode a brown horse while wearing wrap-around sunglasses, a gold chain and army trousers.

The G7 leaders discussed efforts to further isolate Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, which has killed thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

Reuters

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