G7, In Japan, Put Their Heads Together Over Crises 26/05/2016 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Eight ministerial meetings have prepared a fat stack of paper, the “sherpas” have nearly concluded their work, and civil society once more has passed its own resolution on how they propose to tackle the most daunting global problems. Now it’s time for the G7 leaders’ roundtables – and the photo ops in Ise-Shima, Japan. For two days, the heads of state of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States will talk on trade, foreign policy, climate change and energy. And maybe some digital, R&D and intellectual property issues. Main Agenda of the G7 Summit Preparatory documents (Ministerial Rounds) According to an official document of the host leaders will also discuss the migration and refugee crisis as well as counter-terrorism and other issues including cyber, tax transparency, infrastructure investment, women, health and the post-2015 development agenda. All these are global issues, therefore the club-nature of the G7 meetings can be and is questioned by some. Beside the pressing foreign policy issues, “digital” is expected to receive a fair amount of attention. It has at least during the preparatory rounds, with G7 countries making high level promises in a “Charter for the Digitally Connected World [pdf].” In that charter, the G7 leaders commit to four key principles: human rights online like offline, free flow of information, support for the multi-stakeholder model (still to be realised for G7 meetings) and the strengthening of digital connectivity and inclusiveness for all. International tension over the “free flow of information” and “data protection” is glossed over by just putting them side by side, with the addition of cybersecurity. In the same way, the promotion of open data, the development of human capital, the facilitation of R&D and the protection of intellectual property are listed as issues where further efforts will be made. Open Data and Trade Secrets On IP, which is not a major topic on the agenda, the G7 countries note in the supporting documents that they “affirm the importance of developing and protecting intellectual property, including trade secrets,” and “recognize that strong intellectual property regimes foster open markets, competition, innovation and growth.” Generally applicable policies “that require access to or transfer of source code of mass market software as a condition of market access” is rejected, “while recognizing the legitimate interest of governments in assessing the security of these products.” Cyberspace as the New Battlefield The cyberdomain also figures quite prominently in the preparatory document of the foreign ministers from earlier this year. Sharing “concerns about the malicious use of cyberspace, including by state-sponsored actors and non-state actors,” the G7 governments “stress that existing international law, including the United Nations Charter, is applicable in cyberspace.” Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun yesterday reported that the stipulation “cyber-attacks as an armed attack by a country or terrorist entity” – and a possible right to self-defence could be expected to make it to the final communique of the G7. This was accompanied with a commitment to cooperate in taking measures against cyber-attacks on large events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the paper wrote. The stipulation of international law for cyber conflicts has been under consideration by the fourth UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the G7 foreign ministers, which is expected to be followed by the fifth UN GGE. Geopolitical Positioning and the Trade Tussle Yomiuri Shimbun notes in their story that China, Russia and also North Korea are in part targets of the Digital Charter and cyberwar warnings. The same has been said before for the trade agenda of the G7 countries which are together in different stages of coming to grips with their plurilateral or bilateral preferential trade agreements. Taking stock of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has also been announced as an agenda item. Especially the TTIP recently suffered a considerable backlash, when even EU governments called for a halt after negotiation documents were leaked by Greenpeace (IPW, Bilateral/Regional Negotiations, 3 May 2016). “The global trade agenda has been a difficult one for a while, most of all multilaterally, with little new to report on that front, alas, but the momentum secured on the preferential front, and notably within so-called mega-regional agreements, has also ebbed most recently,” trade expert Pierre Sauvé, director, External Programs and Academic Partnerships at the World Trade Institute in Bern, told Intellectual Property Watch. While CETA might face less difficulties after Canada decided to embrace the EU’s new approach to settling investment disputes, the expert is less optimistic for the two mega-regional flagships, TPP and TTIP. “I think one need not look much farther than the current state of US domestic politics and the electoral cycle, which has entered a paralyzing phase in which the Obama administration’s gamble that a quick TPP fix (involving significant US compromises) could pave the way for early congressional ratification appears to have backfired.” The TPP would thus be for the next (likely less trade-friendly) Administration and Congress to contend with, “as with TTIP which faces even choppier waters as both parties continue to show a limited political desire to move off their respective red lines,” Sauvé wrote. President Barack Obama during his visit in Vietnam tried to give the trade deal another push. Clock Running Out on Human Lives, MSF Warns Much more leadership is asked also in the area of health security and universal health coverage (UHC). The health organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), commended the French government for put access to medicines – including exorbitant medicine prices – and a lack of research and development (R&D) into needed medicines high on the agenda, against strong opposition from other G7 countries. MSF called for much stronger leadership from G7 countries. “The G7 should change course and not only prioritise this discussion, but to strongly support the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Access to Medicines, which will be culminating in a large meeting in New York in September,” the organisation requested in its press release on the eve of the meeting. At the same time, MSF urges G7 governments not to cave in to pressure from their pharmaceutical lobbies to ignore or undermine discussions on this topic at the Summit and beyond. “Governments must stop prioritising trade over human lives,” said Nathalie Ernoult of MSF’s Access Campaign. “The clock is running out and everyone is watching closely how the G7 governments will take this forward.” Public attention had to be focussed on the exorbitant prices of new hepatitis C medicines, which pharmaceutical companies have priced at up to US$1,000 per pill (or close to $100,000 per treatment course), leading to global treatment rationing for a deadly disease that afflicts 150 million people and kills 700,000 each year. MSF also warned not to wait for the next health crisis to happen. Two years since the first signs of the West Africa Ebola outbreak, the world today is little more prepared to respond to such an emergency than it was then. For MSF, it is clear that the needs and threats of mass disease epidemics persist, from flare-ups of Ebola cases earlier this year in West Africa to the current outbreak of yellow fever in Angola. G7 Format Still Appropriate? The G7 summits have been criticised for several years by civil society for their club-nature and lack of progress reached. Experts in international policy like Sauvé have their doubts, too, on the format. “For the G7 more broadly, its track record on matters of international economics has long been one of limited achievements,” Sauvé contemplated, adding, “this is compounded by the fact that the seven countries around the table account for an ever-declining share of aggregate output, trade, FDI and so forth.” This could raise questions of political legitimacy. Nevertheless, the Summit process is “still useful for these countries to cooperate and maintain open channels of policy dialogue at the highest level on matters of mutual interest,” he said, “so long as they are not seen, nor see themselves, as the directoire of the world economy, which they assuredly are not (or no longer).” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."G7, In Japan, Put Their Heads Together Over Crises" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.