U.S. President Donald Trump is in Biarritz, France, for the G-7 summit, where he will be meeting world leaders who oppose his stances on many issues, including tariffs, Brexit, climate protection, China, Iran and Russia.
But in this meeting of the leaders of the world’s major industrialized countries, there could be areas of cooperation where Trump is willing to offer support, or at least not resist: women’s empowerment and Africa.
French President Emmanuel Macron, as the G-7 2019 president and summit host, has chosen combating inequality as the theme, with gender equality and partnership with Africa as key issues. He will be pushing several initiatives, including the Biarritz Partnership for Gender Equality and Partnership for the African Sahel. Macron also will be calling for renewed support for Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa.
Despite Trump’s skepticism of foreign aid and his rejection of globalism, including his famous statement in front of the 2018 U.N. General Assembly that the U.S. “will not tell you how to live or work or worship,” his administration has indicated it may support at least some of these initiatives, noting that the White House has launched similar efforts.
On Sunday Trump will participate in a G-7 working lunch on inequality and a session on the partnership with Africa later in the afternoon.
Biarritz partnership for gender equality
Earlier this year, Macron formed a
Despite not outwardly obstructing the G-7 agenda on Africa, it’s unclear how much substantive support the administration would provide.
A White House statement ahead of the summit applauded the efforts of partners and the international community to promote peace and stability in Africa but did not mention whether the U.S. would provide additional economic or security assistance in the Sahel as called for by Macron.
The White House instead pointed to its Prosper Africa private-financing initiative and the BUILD Act as proof of the administration’s commitment. The law was passed in 2018 and aims to facilitate private capital in developing low-income economies.
Analysts say the administration’s policy on Africa is focused more on investment, in particular in the context of countering China.
While it hasn’t abandoned any of the pillars of focus that previous administrations have had on the continent, the Trump administration is “doing less with less,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The administration is running the traps on some of the security stuff,” said Devermont, “but without the same robustness of previous administrations and certainly not anywhere near where we were in democracy and governance.”
He added that Trump does not have the personal connection that President Barack Obama had with the continent, nor the interest in development that President George W. Bush had.
On Thursday, Trump scrapped a proposal to freeze more than $4 billion in foreign aid after objections from lawmakers of both parties and his own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
While there may be some consensus on gender equality and Africa, there clearly are deep divisions between members.
For the first time in its history, this summit will not produce a joint communique amid deepening divisions between leaders over myriad issues.