United stand:G7 leaders posing for a photo at the summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, on Friday.AFPLeon Neal
The G7 on Saturday unveiled U.S.-led plans to counter China in infrastructure funding for poorer nations, and a new accord to prevent future pandemics, as the elite group sought to showcase Western unity at its first in-person summit since 2019.
Promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.
Their “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project is aimed at competing with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure (BRI) initiative, which has been widely criticised for saddling countries with unmanageable debt but has included even G7 member Italy since launching in 2013.
The White House said President Joe Biden and fellow leaders addressed “strategic competition” with Beijing on the second day of their three-day summit in Carbis Bay, southwest England.
Meanwhile, Britain hailed G7 agreement on the “Carbis Bay Declaration”— a series of commitments to curb future pandemics after COVID-19 wrecked economies and killed millions around the world.
The collective steps include slashing the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for any future disease to under 100 days, while reinforcing global surveillance networks.
The G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — will formally publish the pact on Sunday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it an “important initiative”. “We can’t sit back and say that China will do it but it’s the G7’s ambition to have a positive agenda for a number of countries in the world which are still lagging behind... I welcome it,” she said.