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Forging the Economy-Security Link at the Toronto G7 Foreign and Security Ministers' Meetings

Tracy Wang, G7 Research Group
April 22, 2018

There is an intimate link between economy and security in international affairs, with each domain serving as both a cause and cure of problems and progress in the other. A strong economy enables countries to contribute to global security in both reactive and preventive ways, while security from threats, both inside and outside a country, enable it to grow the economy more than it otherwise would.

How well will the G7 foreign and security ministers' meeting in Toronto on April 22-24 recognize the links, and act in ways that mobilize the synergies between the two? Given the agendas of the ministers' working sessions, gender and cyber security seem to be more predominant than the economy in combination with security to catalyze its effectiveness.

When the G7 foreign ministers met in April 2017 in Lucca, Italy, several of the 141 commitments they announced in their communiqué contained a clear economic link to security. Examples include:

The year before, in April 2016 at Hiroshima, Japan, among the foreign ministers' 59 commitments were several that addressed link between the economy and security:

In Toronto, the foreign and security ministers remain primarily focused on conflict regions. Gender and cyberspace, as opposed to the economy, are catalyzed in tandem with security in two of the foreign ministers' eight sessions: "Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, with a focus on Women, Peace and Security" and "Conflict Prevention and Support for UN Peace Efforts and Reforms, Cyber, Counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism" sessions. Themes relating to cyber security take predominance in the security ministers' meetings, with half the sessions on the topic: the third session, "Preventing Violent Extremist and Terrorist Use of the Internet," and the fourth session, "Cybersecurity."

Why is it that none of the foreign and security sessions appeal directly to the economy? Although Canada has many comparative advantages within the G7, women and gender are issues where other world leaders may confidently look to Canada for guidance, and Canada is likely looking to spark discourse and meaningful progress here as one of the Charlevoix's five main themes. In Toronto, it is sensible for Canada to leverage its strengths and priorities when it sets the agenda.

It remains to be seen how fruitful discussions on Ukraine were at Taormina given Ukraine's pervasive corruption and imminent security threat of the Russians, as well as how possible it will be to rebuild Iraq now that ISIS has been removed as a territorial state. At Charlevoix, Canada would be wise to communicate strong leadership and the promotion of the institution's values and importance in light of neighbouring United States heading in an increasingly closed-off space — whether it be by coercing states to devote resources to the protection of women in war zones, which the United States may agree to, or by taking stances on the promotion of multilateral trade and encouraging developing economies, which it may not.

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Tracy Wang is an analyst with the G7 Research Group and was a member of the field team at the 2017 Taormina Summit.


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