6:58 AM Jul 6, 1993


Geneva 6 July (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- We came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities and held in these three days a searching and productive exchange of views on the world economic situation, on economic problems common to our countries, on their human, social and political implications, and on plans for resolving them....

....To assure in a world of growing interdependence, the success of objectives set out in this declaration, we intend to play our full part and strengthen our efforts for closer international cooperation and constructive dialogue among all countries....

...(we) are determined to overcome high unemployment...the most urgent task is to assure the recovery of our economies and to reduce the waste of human resources involved in unemployment. In consolidating recovery it is essential to avoid unleashing additional inflationary forces which would threaten its success. The objective must be growth that is steady and lasting. In this way, consumer and business confidence will be restored...We are confident that our present policies are compatible and complementary and that recovery is under way...

...As domestic recovery and economic expansion proceed, we must seek to restore growth in the volume of world trade. Growth and price stability will be fostered by maintenance of an open trading system. In a period when pressures are developing for a return to protectionism, it is essential for the main trading nations to confirm their commitment...and avoid resorting to measures by which they could try to solve their problems at the expense of others...We believe that the multilateral trade negotiations (within the framework of GATT) should be accelerated...they should aim at substantial tariff cuts, even eliminating tariffs in some areas, at significantly expanding agricultural trade and at reducing non-tariff measures. They should aim at achieving the maximum possible level of trade liberalisation therefrom...."

This is not a copy of a draft of the declaration prepared by the sherpas for adoption at the G7 Tokyo summit, obtained as a scoop by SUNS, but extracts from the text of the communique issued at Rambouillet (near Paris in France) in 1975.

It was French President Giscard d'Estang, who in July 1975 (in a newspaper interview) initiated the idea of the leading Western countries meeting at Summit level to tackle the economic crises which, he noted, was being described as the 'crisis of capitalism' but in fact was 'a monetary crisis'.

Giscard d'Estang's move came in the wake of the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and its fixed exchange rates being replaced by the floating exchange rate system, the spread of the inflation in the US (due to the way the Vietnam war was run and financed along with the 'Great Society) and the Nixon repudiation of the fixed gold exchange system -- he himself thought it would help control inflation -- leading also to the first oil price rise by the OPEC which would have taken place in response to the inflation anyway at the consumer end, but the OPEC cartel asserted control and secured the price rise at the producer end.

Initially, the US and its Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger spoke in confrontational terms, and there was even talk of military intervention, but wiser counsel prevailed. And at the end of that summit, it was Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State to US President Gerald Ford, who suggested annual summit meetings of these socalled industrial democracies, who started at Rambouillet with France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA and joined only later by Canada.

The GATT Tokyo Round at that first summit was already two-years old. And the Rambouillet summiteers set themselves a goal of completing it in 1977 -- it actually was completed in 1979, or four years later, and did not bring about the hoped for economic recovery or employment but found the world reeling under recession and more unemployment and inflation, and the tariff barriers replaced by other hidden ones.

Nineteen summits later from the first which promised actions on unemployment, monetary problems and crisis that brought them together, most of the problems remain or have been aggravated.

But gradually as G7 heads began realising their self-inflicted impotence to deal with the economic crisis (since for ideological reasons they had been dismantling the carefully crafted national and international policy instruments) at every summit they began to deal with a variety of other issues -- political, health, drugs, environment, international law and order etc, and less and less of economics.

Very little has changed since that first summit. Only the communiques of every succeeding summit have become longer and more of photo-opportunities -- as a columnist in the International Herald Tribune has called it a "punchless pageantry" -- with journalists, by and large, basking and benefiting from travelling to and covering such expanse-paid summit meetings, presenting (with decreasing credibility) as momentous events bringing the world nearer to prosperity and peace.

The Non-Aligned and other developing countries at that time questioned and challenged the six or the seven deciding the fate of the rest of the world and sought negotiations for a New Order, while the (then) East gloated over the crisis of capitalism. Now, in the New (dis)Order of the 1990s, ex-Super Power Russia and the NAM want a place, if not at the top table, atleast at the door for the G7 to hear their pleas.

And the annual meets will go on and on, until perhaps another voice from the even remoter past (like that of Oliver Cromwell in April 1653 at the Rump Parliament) and say to the G7: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God go"