The meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors in Whistler, Canada, on 1–2 June 2018 was dominated by the ongoing trade dispute with the US. Strong criticism was levelled at the unilateral introduction of US tariffs amid fears that the move could put global growth at risk. The concern and disappointment of the other G7 members was noted in the Canadian chair’s public summary. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was explicitly asked to communicate these concerns to US President Donald Trump ahead of the upcoming G7 summit in Charlevoix. A wide range of other topics relating to international cooperation in the area of finance were also discussed.
Under the heading “A Resilient Global System that Works for All”, the importance of international institutions such as the Financial Action Task Force was emphasised, with participants agreeing that the effectiveness and governance of such institutions should be enhanced. The G7 ministers and governors also welcomed improved cooperation between multilateral development banks.
Another key topic area was entitled “Economic Growth that Works for Everyone”, with the G7 members agreeing that ensuring this type of growth is a key challenge. In this context, it is useful to look at indicators that go beyond just GDP, such as educational attainment, the child poverty rate, equal opportunities, and participation in the world of work.
This is particularly true in the context of “Adapting to Change in a Modern Economy”, another key issue discussed. The G7 discussions on the challenges posed by technological change concluded that efforts to equip people with the right skills need to go beyond traditional education. In particular, life-long learning needs to be promoted. Another goal should be to ensure that more women pursue STEM careers, having been under-represented in these areas.
On the issue of “Balancing the Risks and Potential Benefits of Crypto-Assets”, the G7 ministers and governors agreed that international coordination is needed to effectively deal with challenges in a globally interconnected financial system.
The same applies to addressing cyber risks in the financial sector. The G7 Cyber Experts Group can provide support for the potential coordination of an appropriate reaction to a cyber attack in the financial sector.
Another main topic area was “Fostering Tax Fairness”, where the G7 aims to achieve a consensus in the area of digital taxation by 2020. Ministers and governors renewed their commitment to supporting global efforts such as the exchange of information for tax purposes and the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project. The G7 members pledged their support for the global Knowledge-Sharing Platform for Tax Administrations and the Platform for Collaboration on Tax for developing countries.
A joint meeting of G7 finance and development ministers also took place in Whistler, the first time such a meeting has been held. Issues discussed in the area of “Innovative Financing for Development” included mobilising private capital for sustainable development and building economic resilience against extreme weather events. “Women’s Economic Empowerment” was also the subject of discussion.