The Prime Minister opens the G8 summit in Northern Ireland today with an agenda focused on driving growth and prosperity across the world.
Fifteen years on from the Good Friday agreement, during the 2 day meeting at Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, leaders will discuss trade, tax, transparency and terrorism and have a working dinner focused on the situation in Syria and Libya.
Before all leaders gather at the summit, the Prime Minister will bring together President Obama, President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Letta and the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council in the library of the Lough Erne hotel to discuss EU-US trade. Following agreement on the EU mandate by trade ministers on Friday, the stage is set for the launch of negotiations with the US on an ambitious trade deal that could be worth up to £10 billion a year - £380 to every British household. This would deliver on one of the PM’s top priorities for the Lough Erne gathering and turbo-charge the transatlantic economy.
Ahead of the summit, the Prime Minister said:
Britain hosts the G8 every eight years. I am determined to use this opportunity to address some of the biggest issues facing our countries. First, by discussing them frankly amongst ourselves - that has always been one of the strengths of the G8. And then by agreeing practical action which will make a difference for our own peoples, and for the wider world.
So I want a meeting where we can look each other in the eye, cut through the obstacles and the opposition and generate the political will to solve the problems we face.
I hope that hosting the summit in Northern Ireland will help inspire progress and dispel cynicism. Northern Ireland shows how even the most intractable problems can be addressed and resolved. It shows the value of leadership, and of political leaders working with each other in a constructive spirit, even where their differences are profound. The progress that we have seen in Northern Ireland is truly remarkable. 10 or 20 years ago, a G8 in Fermanagh would have been unimaginable. But today Northern Ireland is a very different place. And I want the world to see this new Northern Ireland that is open for business, investment and tourism. A symbol of hope to the world.
The most important issue facing our countries is how to promote economic recovery. Last year, when we started planning our summit, I had a very clear and concrete goal in mind: action to boost growth and to help us all succeed in the global race; action that will create jobs and reduce poverty; action that benefits people around the world. That’s why it’s right that the first issue we’ll discuss is the global economy. We made important progress at Camp David last year. But there are vital steps still needed for long term growth. Let’s be clear, we still need to deal with fiscal deficits. Each country needs to press on with sorting out its public finances. Each country needs active monetary policy to kickstart the affordable loans and mortgages that businesses and families need. And each country needs to deal with the problem of youth unemployment by pursuing the structural reforms and flexible labour markets that are vital for competitiveness and jobs. And then, I want to focus on three vital drivers of growth - trade, tax and transparency - where I believe we can agree some transformative results. An EU-US trade deal, for example, could be worth £10 billion to the UK alone - in the end that’s not some abstract statistic, these trade deals matter, because they mean more jobs, more choice for consumers and lower prices.
It’s also our job as leaders to keep our countries safe. Terrorism and extremism are global problems, and together at Lough Erne I want us agree ways to respond to the growing threats from North Africa, and to take a clear and united stand against paying kidnap ransoms.
It’s an ambitious agenda. It’s a very practical agenda. It’s marking a very clear set of issues which Britain wanted to put on the agenda. Previous G8 Summits have often been dominated by pledges of aid. Of course aid is vital and Britain is right to lead the world in keeping its promises to the world’s poorest and we are leading a new approach that gets right to the causes of poverty, not the symptoms of the poverty. But I want to ensure that this a summit that brings together the developed and developing world and tackles issues relevant to us all. Take tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance - these issues corrode public trust and undermine a competitive low tax economy which can only be sustained if people actually pay the taxes they owe. And when some companies don’t pay their taxes or fail to declare the payments they make when extracting natural resources, developing countries lose out on the vital revenues and benefits of growth that are rightfully theirs.
Above all, this will be a summit that will drive growth and prosperity all over the world. Not because the agreements we reach - on tax, on trade and transparency - are ends in themselves. They are the tools we need to create jobs for our people and raise living standards.
The Prime Minister will also hold his first bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Abe and meet with President Obama in County Fermanagh before officially welcoming leaders on the shores of Lough Erne.
Watch the Watch live video from the UK’s G8 Summit 2013 in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland