Jun 29 , 2022. 6 hours ago – 03:58 By Noriyuki Suzuki and Miya Tanaka, KYODO NEWS
MUNICH/MADRID – Leaders from the Group of Seven nations made a renewed push Tuesday to continue punishing Russia over its war against Ukraine by agreeing to explore a price cap on Russian oil amid surging energy costs, while pledging $4.5 billion to combat a growing food crisis.
In a communique issued after the three-day summit in southern Germany, the G-7 members also indicated they were mindful of China’s ties with Russia as well as Beijing’s assertiveness, vowing to pursue “coordinated action” against perceived harmful economic practices.
The meeting in Schloss Elmau among leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union took place as rising inflation and shortages in energy and food put the global economy in a perilous situation and the months-long war tests the unity of the leading democracies.
“Standing in unity to support the government and people of Ukraine in their fight for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future, we will continue to impose severe and immediate economic costs” on Russia, the leaders said in the communique.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hailed the G-7 for delivering a “powerful message” at a time when the international order is facing grave challenges.
As the only Asian country in the G-7, Japan has been working in lockstep with the other members of the group to impose tough sanctions on Russia, believing that any tolerance of its military aggression in Ukraine will only embolden China in the Indo-Pacific region where it has become increasingly assertive.
Reflecting such concerns, the G-7 leaders underscored the importance of maintaining a “free and open Indo Pacific” and said, “We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion that increase tensions.”
As for an oil price cap scheme, the communique said options include enabling transportation of Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products globally only if the oil is purchased at or below a specified price.
Limiting the price of Russian oil is expected to give more teeth to the existing sanctions imposed on Moscow, as Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be profiting from high energy prices stemming from supply concerns due to the war.
The measure is also anticipated to provide greater supply to oil markets and put downward pressure on global energy prices, which has been a key driver of inflation, according to U.S. officials.
But pundits say designing such a mechanism is not easy and the move will require international cooperation including from emerging economies.
“We invite all likeminded countries to consider joining us in our actions,” the communique said.
As Russia seeks to shift the blame for the food crisis to the West’s sanctions, the G-7 stepped up accusations against the country for weaponizing food such as by blocking Ukrainian grain exports at Black Sea ports, saying in a separate statement that Moscow bears “enormous responsibility” for driving food and fertilizer prices higher globally.
On China, the G-7 leaders said they will build “a shared understanding of China’s nontransparent and market-distorting interventions and other forms of economic and industrial directives.”
“We will then work together to develop coordinated action to ensure a level playing field for our businesses and workers, to foster diversification and resilience to economic coercion, and to reduce strategic dependencies,” the communique said.
China has often been accused of extensive use of industrial subsidies and intellectual property theft as well as using its economic leverage to seek policy concessions.
The G-7 also called on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression. Prior to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the two countries declared their friendship had “no limits.”
In a bid to counter Beijing’s “Belt and Road” cross-border infrastructure scheme, the G-7 launched its own plan to promote development among low- and middle-income nations by announcing a program to make $600 billion available by 2027.
China’s role in ensnaring vulnerable nations in so-called debt traps was also highlighted at the summit, apparently in connection with the country’s infrastructure initiative that critics say is intended to draw the developing world deeper into Beijing’s economic orbit.
As in last year’s G-7 summit communique, the latest document mentioned Taiwan, a self-ruled island Beijing views as its own, and underscored the importance of “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait.
The G-7 members also expressed concern about the situation in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been stepping up territorial claims including over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, as well as the human rights situation in China.
Since Russia’s invasion began in February, the G-7 has rolled out a raft of sanctions to hold Moscow accountable for the war, including asset freezes, an oil import ban and disconnecting it from a key international payment system.
Fresh punitive measures agreed on during the summit included a ban on gold imports from Russia, a major producer.
The G-7 leaders also said they will seek to create an open and cooperative international “Climate Club” by the end of this year to accelerate efforts to address global warming.
The communique, meanwhile, said the G-7 welcomes Kishida’s offer to host next year’s gathering of the leaders in Hiroshima, a city that suffered U.S. atomic bombing in World War II, as Japan will take over the G-7 presidency from Germany.
Kishida will attend a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Madrid following the G-7 meeting, before returning to Japan.