Biden and G-7 partners start infrastructure initiative for developing countries

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At his meetings with the G-7 leaders this weekendPresident Biden is implicitly different from his predecessor, who largely rejected multilateralism in favor of an independent foreign policy. Mr. Biden has focused on strengthening global ties and urged its democratic leaders to do more to compete with China as a united front.

Mr. Biden has also sought to restore the United States’ reputation as a world leader by abandoning President Trump’s America First strategy. Ahead of a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, the second day of the G-7 summit, a reporter asked Biden if he had convinced the country’s allies that America was back.

“Ask him,” said Mr. Biden, referring to Macron. When Macron was asked the same question, the French President said, “Absolutely.”

Mr Biden met with Chancellor Angela Merkel later that day and said that Merkel would visit the White House next month.

Also on Saturday, the White House announced a “Build Back Better World” initiative to “help meet the enormous infrastructure needs in low- and middle-income countries,” according to a data sheet. The name is a nod to Mr. Biden’s popular slogan to promote home infrastructure improvements.

The initiative was announced after a Saturday morning meeting of G-7 leaders to discuss how to counter China’s growing global influence, according to a senior official. The official said the initiative stems from a conversation between Mr Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in which both spoke about the framework and the slogan “Build Back Better”.

Although there was “widespread agreement” among leaders to find a way to translate democratic values ​​into more concrete infrastructure efforts, there was a “spectrum” of views on how hard it is to push and unite China Calling for actions they are taking, said the senior administration official. While European Union leaders like Merkel advocate a more diplomatic approach to China, Mr Biden, Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advocated using “more action-oriented efforts and coordination” to urge China on human rights issues.

China recently stepped up its efforts to help developing countries through its Belt and Road initiative. The senior administrative official said that developing countries were being taken advantage of by China and that G-7 leaders wanted to offer an alternative that was “not necessarily a direct contrast” but a different choice. They are open to China joining the Build Back Better initiative if they raise their human rights standards.

In a statement released later on Saturday, a senior administration official made it clear that the summit is “about a positive agenda, not a confrontation with China”.

“But in the discussions among leaders, we have increasing convergence on the importance of responding to China’s non-market practices, the need to speak out against human rights violations, including in Xinjiang, and respond to forced labor practices in supply chains.” from Xinjiang, is pursuing a positive infrastructure initiative with high standards and transparency and is coordinating the resilience of the supply chain and technology standards so that democracies are coordinated and mutually supportive. And since some members refused to even mention China three years ago, this is a huge shift in a short period of time, “the official said.

According to the White House leaflet on the Built Back Better World initiative, the G-7 will coordinate “in mobilizing private sector capital” on climate, health and security, digital technology, and gender equality. It will have a “global scope” with different countries focusing on different regions.

“In addition to the billions of dollars the United States is mobilizing to finance overseas infrastructure through existing bilateral and multilateral instruments, we will work with Congress to expand our development finance toolkit in the hope that, along with the The private sector, other US actors, and G7 partners will jointly catalyze B3W hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments for low and middle income countries in the coming years, ”says the data sheet.

The global initiative announcement comes as Mr Biden struggles at home to get a domestic infrastructure initiative passed. The president has proposed the US $ 1.7 trillion employment plan, but Republicans have opposed the price and Mr Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to pay it. A group of non-partisan senators an agreement reached on Thursday on a proposal that provides $ 579 billion in new spending over five years. However, it is unclear whether the proposal will find universal support among Democrats in Congress, who argue that it does not go far enough.

The White House also announced on Friday that the G-7 and host countries will provide more than 1 billion additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the world, 500 million of which will come from the United States.

Biden is also expected to sign a communique from G-7 leaders at the end of the summit, which is still under negotiation but will likely be released on Sunday. When the G-7 leaders gathered in 2018, Trump did not sign the communique and attacked Trudeau as “weak”.

The president stays in Europe until next week and has an eagerly awaited meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

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