The UK and other G7 countries are planning collective action against Russia and China if they threaten trade boycotts for political reasons, announcing a new body to deal with “economic pressure” .
Rishi Sunak urged “bold and pragmatic collective action” against hostile states that would stop doing business with other countries if they disagreed with their geopolitical decisions.
He cited Russia’s stranglehold on European gas supplies last year as a situation that could have been addressed with a collective response.
Other examples include China’s punitive tariffs on Australian wine after Canberra called for an inquiry into the origins of Covid, and Beijing’s decision to freeze trade with Lithuania after the Baltic set up an office. the country of Taiwan.
Sunak will set out the UK’s plan for cracking down on such trading practices at a session on Saturday, with other G7 countries expected to agree on the formation of a new council to discuss collective answer.
Diplomatic sources say that there is a recognition that the World Trade Organization has not proven an effective forum for dealing with such action from states such as Russia and China.
The new G7 coordination platform on economic coercion will address the “growing and harmful use of coercive economic measures to interfere in the sovereign affairs of other states”.
Advised by policy makers, businesses and academics, the council will act as an early warning system and create where the G7 should “take action when necessary”.
Sunak is a leading advocate of the need to resist economic pressure, but others in the G7, such as France, are more cautious about confronting Beijing, and warned that the summit should not be seen as “anti- China”. Sunak is due to meet with Macron for a one-to-one meeting on Saturday.
The G7 – which includes the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as the EU – said its goals were not about “decoupling” from China but “decoupling” the relationship. .
However, Sunak was clear in his assessment of the Chinese threat. “We need to be clear-eyed about the growing challenges we face. China is engaged in an integrated and strategic economic competition,” he said.
“And when Russia arms Europe’s energy supplies, it’s a sign of what can happen when we become too dependent on states that don’t share our values.
“Our collective economic security is more important now than ever. By working together and avoiding competition between friends, we can increase our prosperity, innovate faster and not compete with autocratic states.
The move has already angered Beijing. Asked about the reported move earlier this week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “If there is any country that has been criticized for economic pressure, it should be the United States.
“The US overstretches the concept of national security, abuses export controls and takes discriminatory and unfair measures against foreign companies. This seriously violates the principles of the market economy and fair competition.”
On Saturday, the leaders will also discuss efforts to avoid shortages of key components such as semiconductors. Tech goods – used in smartphones, televisions and cars – are largely made in Taiwan, which is under threat from China.
The UK agreed to a new semiconductor partnership with Japan on Thursday and the two countries said they would work together on defense and technology. Sunak met with Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, for dinner on Thursday night – the only G7 leader to do so besides the US president, Joe Biden. The summit, which began on Friday, was dominated by discussions on how the G7 countries should respond to Russia and China.
On Friday, Sunak warned the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that the western leaders “will not leave”, while the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, prepared to fly to meet them.
At a teahouse in Hiroshima’s Shukkeien garden on Friday, the British prime minister told Sky News: “Russia should know that we and other countries remain firm in our determination to support Ukraine, not only here and now with the resources it needs. to protect itself, but also for the long term.”
He told ITV: “They just can’t get us out of this conflict. One of the common topics of conversation that I do and do with my fellow leaders is about longer term security agreements. that we put in Ukraine, to prevent future Russian aggression.
Zelenskiy is expected to arrive at the summit for an intensive round of diplomacy at the end of the week. With Russia’s war against Ukraine now in its second year, Sunak said his main mission at the G7 is to strengthen support for Kyiv, especially among countries that maintain a broad neutral principle, like India.
The UK was joined by other G7 countries, including the US, in announcing new sanctions against Russia.