Experts tell G8 of need for new global policies

A group of private-sector experts from member countries of the Group of Eight proposed Wednesday that G8 leaders adopt new strategies at the Okinawa summit in July to cope with fundamental changes in the world’s economic and security landscape.

Specifically, the proposals place emphasis on the need for G8 leaders to tackle six major issues including the information technology revolution and the new economic cycle, security in Asia — particularly across the Taiwan Strait — and new financial technologies as a threat to global financial stability.

The proposals were drafted in a Pre-Summit Preparatory Conference, a two-day meeting of 18 experts that kicked off Tuesday in Tokyo. The experts include former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former European Commission Vice President Leon Brittan.

A summary of the proposal was submitted to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori later in the day. The preparatory conference will complete detailed proposals at a later date and send them to all the G8 leaders.

Citing the inadequacy of policy responses to date, the conference proposed that six major topics take priority at the Okinawa Summit: further reform of the international financial architecture, global trade, Russia’s new political configuration, security in Asia, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the opportunities offered by globalization and resistance to it.

During a subsequent press conference at the Japan National Press Center in Tokyo, Fred Bergsten, chief of the Washington-based Institute for International Economics think tank, said, “G8 summits have clearly declined in value quite dramatically. Many people have actually proposed the abolition of the G8 summits on the ground that they no longer do much good.

“We come neither to bury the summits nor to praise them, but in fact to see if we can make suggestions that would start to be more effective . . . and reinvigorate the summit process starting this year.”

While criticizing the recent tendency for the eight members to “consider the large number of issues superficially,” Bergsten urged summit leaders to zero in on a few major issues in a way to give them deep substantive attention.

Bergsten jointly chaired the presummit preparatory conference with Heizo Takenaka, a Keio University professor and president of The Nippon Foundation, which organized the first conference.

The conference will now be held every year, Bergsten said.