Economic Growth and Jobs Top G8 Meeting Agenda

The Lough Erne Golf Resort Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, where G8 leaders will meet.
The Lough Erne Golf Resort Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, where G8 leaders will meet.

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
June 15, 2013

Global economic growth and expanded employment will be a significant part of the agenda at the annual summit of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations in Northern Ireland on June 17–18, a White House economic adviser says.

Coupled with economic growth, the world leaders are expected to discuss expansion of trans-Atlantic trade and economic development for less-developed regions of the world, says Caroline Atkinson, senior director for international economic issues on the National Security Staff.

Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States will meet at Lough Erne outside Belfast, Northern Ireland June 17-18. The Lough Erne meetings mark President Obama’s fifth G8 Summit. The eight major economies account for approximately 50 percent of the world’s global gross domestic product, which measures the total worth of nations.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting the 2013 summit. Each year, one of the eight nations hosts the summit and, following nearly yearlong consultations with the other leaders, sets the summit agenda.

As was the case at the 2012 Camp David summit, “We expect that G8 leaders will express a consensus that growth and jobs are a top priority,” Atkinson said at a June 14 White House press briefing. And after a session on international counterterrorism, Atkinson said, a session among the leaders will focus on trade, tax and transparency issues in the G8 countries.

During the 2012 summit , President Obama returned the meetings to a “small, intimate, action-oriented event ” among the immediate group of leaders, and Prime Minister Cameron wanted to take a similar approach at Lough Erne, Atkinson said.

“On trade, the summit will take place just as we’re concluding our consultation period here with Congress on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Atkinson told journalists. “On taxes, we expect the G8 to make important progress on the issues both of illegal tax evasion and the kind of legal tax avoidance that companies, when they use countries’ loopholes, manage to shift their profits to no- or low-tax jurisdictions.”

Four years ago, President Obama proposed legislation that would crack down on illegal tax evasion by increasing disclosure requirements for individuals and financial institutions, she said. Congress passed legislation in 2010 to block illegal tax evasion and the U.S. Treasury has been working with other governments to ensure that tax evasion is detected and punished, she added.

Atkinson said summit leaders are expected to work to expand the use of these standards and improve the ability of tax authorities and law enforcement to identify firms that use shell companies to hide tax liabilities. She also said that the president will focus on international efforts to reduce what now is legal tax avoidance where companies use tax loopholes to reduce their tax liability.The G8 leaders also will meet African leaders and others along and heads of international organizations to talk about development, a key component of Prime Minister Cameron’s G8 agenda this year, Atkinson said.

There will also be a discussion on the extractive industries sector and transparency. Transparency proposals would require companies to disclose payments they make to governments in the extractive sector, Atkinson said. The United States was the first nation to require companies to disclose payments to governments in the extractive sector, she said. The extractive sector mines raw materials from the earth for use in the production of consumer goods worldwide.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told journalists at the briefing that the president leaves Washington late on June 16 and arrives in Belfast early on June 17. The president will deliver a speech at the Belfast Waterfront Convention Center focused on U.S. support for the peace process in Northern Ireland and also address the development of the economy and society, Rhodes said.

Following the speech, the president joins other G8 leaders for the first session of the summit at Lough Erne. Then Obama will have a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will be their first bilateral meeting since the Group of 20 Summit in Mexico in 2012.

“They clearly have a broad agenda to discuss,” Rhodes said. “I would only add that, as is often the case at these meetings, we’d anticipate that the president will have an opportunity to see other leaders on the margins of the G8 throughout the course of the day.”

The agenda for the president and the other G8 leaders will include a wide range of security issues — such as the ongoing civil conflict in Syria, the security mission in Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear weapons development program, and the Middle East peace process, Rhodes said.

After the summit concludes, Obama will travel to Berlin June 18 for meetings with German officials and Chancellor Angela Merkel through June 19, he said.

First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha will accompany the president, and will largely have a separate schedule that includes a visit to Trinity College in Dublin and to introduce the president to local students while in Belfast, Rhodes said. In Berlin, the first lady and daughters also have a full schedule of separate events.