“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the G7 in Germany earlier this week. I went to this summit with two clear aims: to advance our economic security and to protect our national security. The two are, of course, interlinked, because you cannot have one without the other and, at this summit, we made some progress on both.
First, on economic security, we reached important agreements on trade, global poverty, green growth and corruption. On trade, I was determined to progress the EU’s trade deals with G7 countries, which could together be worth around £20 billion to our economy every year. The G7 agreed to step up efforts on the EU-Japan deal, and to accelerate immediately all work on the EU-US trade deal. It is over 700 days since we launched negotiations at the G8 in Lough Erne, and every day without a deal is costing the global economy £630 million. So we agreed to finalise the outline of an agreement by the end of this year.
We want all countries to grow, including the poorest, for their benefit and because we all benefit from the wider increase in global growth. So we should never forget what has been called the ‘bottom billion’. We agreed the importance of setting ambitious goals at the UN in September that can eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and we also reaffirmed our previous commitments on aid. Britain is keeping its promises to the poorest in the world, and we encouraged others to do the same.
I turn to green growth, where there were important agreements about the global deal that we hope to reach in Paris at the end of the year. It needs sufficiently ambitious emission targets to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees within reach. It needs binding rules with real transparency and accountability so countries have to follow through on their commitments, and it needs a long-term goal for emission cuts at the upper end of the IPCC recommendations, so that businesses have the confidence to invest in low-carbon technology. We also reaffirmed our strong commitment to mobilise the climate finance that is so essential for developing nations and making sure they sign up to an agreement.
There was a new element that I added to this G7, and that was fighting corruption. We met just after the FIFA scandal, but the point that I made was that corruption is not just wrecking an institution that is vital for football; it is also sitting at the heart of so many of the problems we face around the world today. Cutting corruption by just 10% could benefit the global economy by $380 billion every year. Corruption does not just threaten our prosperity; it undermines our security too. So at this summit I was determined that we should do more to confront this issue. In Britain, we have passed the Bribery Act, with a 40-strong team of criminal investigators to enforce it, and we have ensured that all our 28 country aid programmes include anti-corruption measures, but we need the full support of our international partners, and we made some progress in Germany.
We reaffirmed our commitment to the issues around tax and transparency that I first put on the table in Lough Erne two years ago, and we will work with the OECD and the G20 to finalise an international plan to stop companies from artificially shifting their profits across borders to avoid taxes. The G7 will push for a targeted monitoring process to ensure its implementation. Over 90 countries have agreed to share their tax information automatically by the end of 2018, and the G7 urged others to follow suit so more people pay the tax that is due.
Britain has become the first major country to establish a public central registry of who really owns companies, and now other countries have to follow with the implementation of their own national action plans, a key step in countering money laundering and corruption. We also agreed that leaders would give special focus to corruption in the run-up to the UN in September and the G20 in Turkey, culminating with a major anti-corruption summit in London next year.
On national security, there were a number of issues discussed, beginning with ISIL in Iraq and Syria. We have a three-pronged strategy. First, we are helping to train Iraqi security forces so they can defeat ISIL on the ground. We have already trained over 1,200 Kurdish troops in Irbil, and at the summit I announced that we will now deploy an additional 125 military personnel to expand this training effort across Iraq. Secondly, I met Prime Minister Abadi and reiterated our support for his efforts to build an inclusive Government that brings the country together against the common enemy that is ISIL. Thirdly, we need to do more to tackle the causes, not just the consequences, of this terrorist threat, and that means defeating the poisonous ideology of extremism at home and abroad.
In Syria, there is no greater recruiting sergeant for ISIL than President Assad’s war against his own people, so the G7 called for a genuine UN-led political transition as the only way to bring peace and defeat terrorism in Syria.
In Libya, there is a real danger of ISIL terrorists exploiting ungoverned spaces to establish a new base from which to plot attacks against European countries, while criminal gangs are exploiting an open corridor to make Libya the new gateway to Europe for people-smuggling. So we agreed to give our full backing to the UN-led effort to put in place a national unity Government in Libya and we agreed a comprehensive approach going after the gangs that are trafficking people, stabilising the countries from which these people are coming and continuing to play our full part in the humanitarian rescue mission. Britain is playing its part in all of these things, with HMS ‘Bulwark’ picking up another 2,500 people at the weekend.
We are also stepping up our efforts to support Nigeria. I met President Buhari during the summit and also discussed with President Obama how we could best help Nigeria to tackle corruption and win the fight against Boko Haram. The National Security Council has agreed that this will be a specific priority. We are setting up a new cross-government unit dedicated to this task, and we will be offering significant help, including training the Nigerian army to help in its work to defeat Boko Haram.
I turn to global health. Playing our part in fighting disease overseas is not just a moral obligation; it is the single most effective way of preventing diseases infecting people here in the UK. So, following the Ebola outbreak, it was right that the G7 devoted significant time to how best to try to prevent a future global pandemic. At the summit, I announced that we would create a new £20 million UK research and development fund focused on breakthrough medicines. We are also leading by example in promoting greater transparency over clinical trials and forming our own crack team of medics that can deploy rapidly to tackle infection outbreaks anywhere in the world, learning the lessons of the slow response to the Ebola outbreak, chiefly by the World Health Organization.
Finally, this was, of course, the second year running that we have met as a G7 rather than a G8. President Obama summed up the choice facing President Putin: he can either continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation, or he can recognise that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries. The G7 was clear and unambiguous about its position. Diplomatic efforts must succeed in restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and existing sanctions must remain in place until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented. We expect Russia to stop transborder support of separatist forces and use its influence on them to bring the violence to an end. We were clear that we,
‘stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase cost on Russia should its actions so require’.
Fully implementing Minsk also requires action from Ukraine, so it is vital that President Poroshenko’s Government have the support needed to deliver the necessary political and economic reforms. The UK is already helping through our good governance fund, and we will continue to look at what more we can do, but we must not forget that the Ukrainians are the victims and not the aggressors.
Following the general election, with our economy growing, deficit falling and unemployment tumbling, people can see that Britain is back. We are working for trade deals, fighting corruption and leading the battle against poverty, disease and climate change. We are fighting ISIL over the skies of Iraq, saving lives in the Mediterranean and standing firm with sanctions against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. On every front we are playing a leading role in advancing prosperity and security around the world and, in doing so, delivering both the economic security and the national security on which our future depends. I commend this Statement to the House”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.