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Cook Islands has eyes for Canada at G7 summit

Tuesday 16 May 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Economy, National


Cook Islands has eyes for Canada at G7 summit
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown. PHOTO: Caleb Fotheringham/22111708

Cook Islands has Canada in its sights as Prime Minister Mark Brown prepares for the G7 summit in Japan from May 19-21.

Brown will join leaders from Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and United States in Hiroshima this week and is looking to establish formal diplomatic relations with the North American nation among others.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to attend and Brown has singled the nation out as a desired diplomatic partner. 

“We would like to include Canada as one of the countries we are targeting.

“As a country that has graduated to high income status, our access to grant funding and financing is very limited for us.

“So we have to look at being a partner to as many of these countries as possible, look at new ways of doing business and engaging with them in order to develop and grow our economy.”

Brown said he had requested bilateral conversations.  

Following on from forming formal diplomatic arrangements with the United States, Brown said he was looking to establish formal diplomatic relations with Canada. 

“Obviously the G7 countries, Germany and Italy we have diplomatic relations with, India we have diplomatic relations with, we are very soon looking to establish diplomatic relations with the US, we would also like to have the United Kingdom. 

“This enables us as a country to deal directly with these governments and with these countries in a way that is much easier than if we didn’t have formal diplomatic relations with them.”      

While Brown said he would be largely speaking as Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) chair, he would discuss more specific details during bilateral conversations with individual member countries.

That included India, with whom Cook Islands had a long-standing relationship, he said.

Brown said he wanted to grow the relationship with India in terms of minerals, as the nation was a great consumer of technology.        

He said any concerns for the Pacific had been made quite clear over the past two years and they included economic recovery, climate change resilience and the impacts of Covid-19.

“Those remain our priorities, for many of us, those are our national priorities, those are our national security issues.

“Some of the G7 member countries have a different perspective when it comes to national security.  

“We in the Pacific, and in the Cook Islands in particular, have a very different perspective when it comes to what we consider as national security issues, for us it is economic security and climate security, for other countries it is more around regional stability.

“For us, we don’t see our region as an area of competition between the geo political players

“We rather see our region as a place of collaboration if we can have the support of as many partners as we can to try an address economic recovery and climate resilience.” 

The G7 is an informal bloc formed in response to the economic woes stemming from the 1973 oil crisis.

It started out in 1975 as the Group of Six (G6) by the leaders of France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States – the seventh nation, Canada, joined the following year. Russia joined in 1998, and the group was temporarily renamed the G8 until the country was booted out after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

Each year, a different member country becomes the host and gets to set the group’s priorities and annual agenda. Since its origin, the G7 has expanded its focus to include a range of topics, such as climate change, international peace and security, and global health.

The G7 chair organises a set of meetings throughout the year to discuss these issues, inviting ministers and other delegates from the member-states.

The G7 host can invite leaders from other countries, too. For this year’s summit, Japan will welcome Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Brazil’s President Lula da Silva; South Korea’s president Yoon Suk-yeol; as well as the leaders of Vietnam, Indonesia, Comoros (representing the African Union), and the Cook Islands (representing the Pacific Forum of Nations) to join as observers.

Since 1996, representatives from international organisations like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, have also been invited to participate.

  • Cook Islands News deputy editor Al Williams is in Hiroshima, Japan to cover the G7 Summit. His trip was made possible by the Embassy of Japan in New Zealand.