Jun 13, 2021
Joe Biden G7 Summit 2021 Speech Transcript
President Joe Biden gave a speech on June 13, 2021 to close out the 2021 annual G-7 Summit in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Read the full transcript here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
Both the seriousness and the challenges that we are up against and the responsibility of our proud democracies to step up and deliver for the rest of the world. That’s what the G-7 is all about. And rallying the world’s democracies to meet the challenges that the world faces and deliver for our people and for people quite frankly, everywhere and in a pandemic and maintaining robust support for an equitable, inclusive global economic recovery were the top priorities of our nations as we got together. We know we can’t achieve a one without the other; that is, we have to deal with the pandemic in order to be able to deal with economic recovery, which as we were doing in the states, but we committed that we’re going to do more for the rest of the world as well. The fact is that the US contribution is the foundation to work out how we’re going to deal with 100 nations that are poor and having trouble finding vaccines and having trouble dealing with reviving their economies if they were in the first place in good shape.
President Joe Biden: (01:28)
And I committed that we would provide a half a billion beyond the 80 million we’ve already done, half a billion doses of Pfizer vaccine, which we contracted to pay for in addition to money we put into the COVID Project, which is that COVID is in… I know you all know, but a lot of people may not know what COVID is. That is a system whereby they are going to provide funding for states to be able to get access to vaccines on their own as well. But the bottom line is what that generated was a commitment by the rest of our colleagues at the G-7 that they would provide another half billion. So we’re going to have a billion doses of vaccine. And in our case, that includes sharing not just the one billion doses overall, but we’re going to provide for 200 million of those doses by the end of the year, another 300 million by the first half of next year. And so it was greeted with some enthusiasm, and we’ve agreed to work together so that the world is better prepared to detect and deal with future pandemics because there will be future pandemics.
President Joe Biden: (02:47)
I’m sure you’ve seen it. If you haven’t, you’ll get it- a joint statement we put out of the G-7. You’ve seen it, I’m sure. And we are committed to follow on to do some significant work, including not only how we deal with the distribution and help in getting shots in arms for the rest of the world, but how we’re going to deal with putting together a mechanism to anticipate and deal with and be aware of the next pandemic when it comes along. And there will be others.
President Joe Biden: (03:21)
And we also agreed to take important steps that are going to support global economic recovery by laying the foundation for an equitable global economy. Critically, G-7 leaders endorsed a global minimum tax of 15%. Too many corporations have been engaged in what are essentially tax havens, deciding that they would pay considerably less in other environs around the world. But this is going to make sure there’s a minimum tax, and I’m going to move on this at home as well, minimum tax for corporations to pay for the profits they make anywhere in the world. And this agreement’s going to help arrest the race to the bottom that’s been going on among nations attracting corporate investment at the expense of priorities, like protecting our workers and investing in infrastructure.
President Joe Biden: (04:16)
We also made a momentous commitment at the G-7 to help meet more than $40 trillion need that exist for infrastructure in the developing world. I put forward an idea that we named the Bill Bag Better World Partnership, which we’re calling it B3W. The point is that what’s happening is that China has its Belt and Road Initiative, and we think that there’s a much more equitable way to provide for the needs of countries around the world. And so it’s a values-driven, high standard, transparent financing mechanism we’re going to provide and support projects in four key areas- climate, health, digital technology, and gender equity. And we believe that will not only be good for the countries, but it’d be good for the entire world and represent values that our democracies represent and not autocratic lack of values.
President Joe Biden: (05:20)
By harassing the full potential of those who are harassing, we’re going to have to try to change things. That’s the whole idea. But here’s the deal. We’re going to make sure that we’re able to pull together the ability to use the development financing institutions and other development tools to expect a bold new infrastructure investment in low and middle-income countries over the coming years, much of it coming from the private sector, which will generate the capital put in, will generate significantly more capital from the private sector.
President Joe Biden: (05:55)
We also made historic commitment to permanently eliminate the use of our public finance to support unabated coal projects around the world and to end them by this year. The G-7 agreed to that, and those who are not members, but visiting members who are participating in the G-7, who have coal-fired facilities, have also agreed that they would work in that direction as well. So transitioning the world to cleaner energy sources is urgent. It’s essential if we’re going to beat the climate. And one of the things some of my colleagues said to me when I was there was, “Well, the United States’ leadership recognizes there is global warming. And I know that sounds silly, but we had a president who last who basically said, “It’s not a problem, global warming.” It is the existential problem facing humanity, and it’s being treated that way. So we’re going to provide up to $2 billion to support developing countries as they transition away from unabated coal-fired power.
President Joe Biden: (07:05)
In addition, we also agreed to tackle corruption, which is a threat to societies everywhere. I pointed out in a conversation I had with one of the leaders of China, and it was a request for me not to try to… When I was asked what I was going to be doing after being elected, I said, “We’re going to reestablish the strength of American relationships so we can be counted on again, alliances,” and suggested that, “Well, maybe you shouldn’t get the quad,” meaning India, Japan, Australia, and the United States, “working together. And maybe you shouldn’t be pushing on strengthening the European Union to deal with the West, not just to have, and so on.” And I said, “For an American president to… Every president to be sustained or prime minister has to-”
President Joe Biden: (08:03)
-every president to be sustained or Prime Minister has to represent the values of their country and I pointed out, and I mean it sincerely, we’re unique as a country. We’re unique in a sense that we’re not based on ethnicity or geography or religion, we’re one nation that said we organized on an idea, we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men and women are created equal. It sounds corny but it’s real and any president who doesn’t act consistent with what what the reason they talk for the nation is cannot be sustained at the support of that country.
President Joe Biden: (08:35)
And so, what we’re able to do is we know that corruption undermines the trust in government, siphons off public resources, makes economies much less competitive, and constitutes a threat to our security so we’re going to work together to address issues like the abuse of shell companies, money laundering through real estate transactions and we’ve agreed that we’re going to work together to address cyber threats from state and non state actors like criminal ransomware networks and hold countries accountable that harbor criminal ransomware actors don’t hold them accountable. And over the past few weeks, the nations of the G-7 have affirmed that democratic values that underpin everything we hope to achieve in our shared future, that we’re committed to put them to work. One, delivering vaccines and ending the pandemic. Two, driving substantial inclusive economic recovery around the world. Three, in fueling infrastructure development in places that most badly need it. And, four, in fighting climate change.
President Joe Biden: (09:40)
The only way we’re going to meet the global threats that we are, is by working together and with our partners and our allies. And I conveyed to each of my G-7 counterparts that the United States is going to do our part. America is back at the table. America’s back at the table. A lack of participation in the past and full engagement was noticed significantly, not only by the leadership of those countries but by the people in the G-7 countries and America’s back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values. And so, the bottom line is I was very pleased with the outcome of the entire conference and I noticed there was a lot of coverage of my individual comments made by my colleagues about how we were all getting along together but the truth of the matter is we did. I felt it wasn’t about me, it was about America. I felt a genuine sense of enthusiasm that America was back at the table and fully, fully engaged. And now I’m going to be heading off to Brussels to NATO and many of the same people are going to be at that table in NATO and to make the case we are back as well. We do not view NATO as a sort of a protection racket. We believe that NATO is vital to our ability to maintain American security for the next remainder of the century and there’s a real enthusiasm. I made it clear and I pointed out, I thanked them. Article 5 is attack and one’s attack on all. Well, when Americans sometimes, don’t forget, remember what happened in 9/11? We were attacked, immediately NATO supported us. NATO supported us, NATO went till we got Bin Laden, NATO was part of the process and I want them to know, whether they doubted, that we believe NATO and Section Five is a sacred obligation. Bottom line is I think we’ve made some progress in reestablishing American credibility among our closest friends and our values.
President Joe Biden: (12:14)
Now, why don’t I take some of your questions? And I’m told, Jonathan, I’m supposed to recognize you first.
Peter Alexander: (12:21)
Well, I appreciate that, sir. Thank you very much. Mr President, Vladimir Putin … Thank you. Vladimir Putin, who you’ll be seeing in a few days in Geneva, said just a couple of days ago that he believed that US Russia relations were at a low point. In what concrete ways could your summit change that? And then, secondly, on the same topic, you have said previously and in the run up to the summit that you would be unafraid to call out Russia’s disruptive actions like cyber hacks, Ukraine, election interference, but you’re not having a joint press conference with Putin. Why not take the chance to stand side by side with him and say those things to him with the world watching?
President Joe Biden: (12:59)
Well, let me make it clear. I think he’s right, it’s a low point and it depends on how he responds to acting consistent with international norms, which, in many cases, he has not. As I told him when I was running, when I got elected, before I was sworn in, that I was going to find out whether or not he, in fact, did engage in trying to interfere in our election, that I was going to take a look at whether he was involved in the cyber security breach that occurred, etc, and if I did, I was going to respond. I did, I checked it out, I had access to all the intelligence, he was engaged in those activities, I did respond and made it clear that I’d respond again.
President Joe Biden: (13:45)
With regard to … I always found, and I don’t mean to suggest that the press should not know but this is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other. It’s about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship are with Russia. We’re not looking for conflict, we are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms, number one. Number two, where we can work together, we may be able to do that in terms of some strategic doctrine that may be able to be worked together, we’re ready to do it and it maybe other areas. There’s even talk that there may be an ability to work together on climate. The bottom line is that I think the best way to deal with this is for he and I to meet, he and I to have our discussion. I know you don’t doubt that I will be very straightforward with him about our concerns and I will make clear my view of how that meeting turned out and he’ll make clear, from his perspective, how it turned out.
President Joe Biden: (14:54)
But I don’t want to get into being diverted by did they shake hands? Who talked the most? And the rest. Now, he can say what he said the meeting was about and I will say what I think the meeting was about. That’s how I’m going to handle it.
Peter Alexander: (15:08)
Okay, thank you.
President Joe Biden: (15:11)
I’m sorry, I’m going to get in trouble with staff if I don’t do this the right way. Jennifer Jacob, Mumberg.
Reporter 1: (15:19)
Thank you, sir. On China, you … Sorry. China seems to be doing exactly what it wants to do with regard to Hong Kong, with regard to Jinjiang, with the South China Sea and many other issues despite pressure from you and from allies. The final language in the G-7 Communique does have some mentions of China, which is different from past years, but I know it’s not as tough as you and your team wanted it to be. We saw a draft of the Communique and it’s not quite as tough. Why isn’t it as tough? There isn’t very much action in it. There’s some calls for China to be respectful but why isn’t that Communique a little bit tougher? Are you disappointed in that? And what can you do-
Reporter 1: (16:03)
…that communique a little bit tougher? Are you disappointed in that? And what can you do to change some of these actions by China?
President Joe Biden: (16:06)
Well, first of all, I think it… As you know, last time the G7 met, there was no mention of China, but this time there is mention of China. The G7 explicitly agreed to call out human rights abuses in Xinjiang and in Hong Kong, explicitly.
President Joe Biden: (16:26)
Two, to coordinate a common strategy to deal with China non-market policies that undermine competition. They’ve agreed, and that’s underway now how to do that.
President Joe Biden: (16:36)
Three, to take serious actions against forced labor in solar, agriculture, and the garment industries because that’s where it’s happening. And they’ve agreed we will do that. To launch what I said earlier, I really feel very strongly, I propose that we have a democratic alternative to the Belt Road Initiative, to build back better. And they’ve agreed to that, and that’s underway. As to the details of that, we agreed that we’d put together a committee to do that and come up with that.
President Joe Biden: (17:09)
And thirdly, that we are going to insist on high standards for a climate-friendly, transparent alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative. But in the meantime, we’re going to move forward.
President Joe Biden: (17:25)
Look, I think it’s always… Let me put it this way. I know this is going to sound somewhat prosaic, but I think we’re in a contest, not with China, per se, but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world, as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in the rapidly changing 21st century.
President Joe Biden: (17:54)
And I think how we act and whether we pull together as democracies is going to determine whether our grandkids look back 15 years from now and say, “Did they step up? Are democracies as relevant and as powerful as they have been?” And I walked away from the meeting with all my colleagues, believe me, that they are convinced that that is correct now, too. I shouldn’t say, “now,” not just because of me, but they believe that to be the case. And so I think you’re going to see just straight-forward dealing with China.
President Joe Biden: (18:27)
And, again, we’re not looking, as I’ve told Xi Jinping myself, I’m not looking for conflict. Where we can cooperate, we’ll cooperate. Where we disagree, I’m going to state it as frankly. And we are going to respond to actions that are inconsistent.
President Joe Biden: (18:42)
For example, we talked about trade. It’s one thing to talk about whether or not [their 00:18:46] agriculture policy makes sense, it’s another thing to say, “By the way, you’re demanding that if I do business in your country, I’ve got to give you all my trade secrets and have the Chinese partner have 51% of that.” No, not us.
Reporter 1: (19:01)
So are you saying, Mr. President, are you satisfied with what came out in the communique?
President Joe Biden: (19:05)
Reporter 1: (19:05)
Or did you wish it were tougher? Do you wish there was more action on China?
President Joe Biden: (19:08)
I think there’s plenty of action on China, and there’s always something that you can… I’m sure my colleagues think there’s things they think they could improve that they want it, but I’m satisfied.
President Joe Biden: (19:20)
Steve Holland, Reuters.
Thank you, sir. Just to follow up on [inaudible 00:19:26] question, the communique cited a variety affronts on China, everything from human rights, the origin of the COVID virus, Taiwan. What do you think China needs to do to ease tensions?
President Joe Biden: (19:37)
I think China has to start to act more responsibly in terms of international norms on human rights and transparency. Transparency matters across the board. And I think the idea that… For example, one of the things I raised and others raised, I wasn’t the only one who raised this at the G7, is that we don’t know… We haven’t had access to the laboratories to determine whether or not, and I have not reached a conclusion because our intelligence community is not certain yet, whether or not this was a consequence from the marketplace of a bat and interfacing with animals and the environment that caused this COVID-19 or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory.
President Joe Biden: (20:34)
It’s important to know the answer to that because we have to have access. We have to build a system whereby we can know when we see another transparent, lack of transparency, what might produce another pandemic. We have to have access. The world has to have access. So we’re trying to figure out at the G7 whether we could put together an international basis upon which we could have a bottom line with what the transparency accounted for.
And you mentioned that, the argument behind the scenes, that you had not mentioned China in three years in one of these communiques. What did you argue behind the scenes to try to bring people to the point where they got?
President Joe Biden: (21:21)
To answer that question, there’s no way to answer it without sounding self-serving. Let me just say this. I just laid out what I thought was the need for us to be consistent, to protect our economies, and to see to it that other struggling economies who needed help got the help and were not held captive by other nations. But you might ask that to others. I’m not trying to be a wise guy, but I… And Wall Street Journal. Andrew?
Wall Street Journal: (22:00)
As you said, the G7 countries committed to send one billion coronavirus doses overseas. But the World Health Organization says 11 billion doses are needed.
President Joe Biden: (22:10)
Wall Street Journal: (22:10)
How are you going to bridge that gap? Will the U.S. commit to send additional doses overseas? And given the gap, is it actually realistic to end the pandemic by 2022?
President Joe Biden: (22:19)
It is. It may take slightly longer, the worldwide, but the United States is going to continue. I think there’s a possibility over 2022, going into 2023, that we would be able to be in a position to provide another billion, us. But that’s not done yet. I’ve been very careful as I’ve dealt with this pandemic to tell you what I know and say what I thought could be done, and when I’ve announced that I’ve gone and done it. What I don’t want to do is be getting too far ahead and suggesting that we can do things, and I can do things, the United States can do things, that I don’t have done yet.
President Joe Biden: (22:56)
So there was a clear consensus among all our colleagues at the G7 that this wasn’t the end. We were going to stay at it until we’re able to provide for the needs of the whole world in terms… Because look, it’s not just the right thing to do from a, how can I say it, from a moral standpoint, but it is also the correct thing to do in terms of our own health, our own security. You can’t build a wall high enough to keep out new strains. You can’t do that.
President Joe Biden: (23:29)
And so I think this is going to be a constant project for a long time, and there may be other pandemics. Again, setting up a system whereby we can detect before it gets out of control, one, a pandemic that may be on the horizon, a virus, is important. So we are not going to… As long as there are nations in need of being able to be vaccinated, we, in fact… Not only that, we’ve been engaged in helping, which I’ve made clear and most of our, my colleagues understood…
President Joe Biden: (24:03)
… which I’ve made clear and most of my colleagues understood it, knew it from trying it themselves. This is a gigantic logistical effort. It’s one thing to send nation X number Y number of vaccines. It’s another thing to have the people that can actually get it in somebody’s arm. And so we are also providing the ability for other countries to manufacture their vaccines. We’ve all agreed on that. India has the capacity to do that. They don’t have the material capacity thus far to do the manufacturing, but there’s a lot going on to provide not only to “give vaccines,” but to provide the ability of the countries in question to produce their own vaccines.
Speaker 1: (24:49)
President Joe Biden: (24:49)
I’m not going to answer it. No, I’m joking. The last question. Peter Alexander, NBC News.
Peter Alexander: (24:57)
Okay. Thank you very much. About Vladimir Putin and your meeting this week, as you’re well aware, the US has been slapping sanctions on Russia for years for its malign activities and Russia has not stopped. So what specifically will you do differently to change Vladimir Putin’s behavior?
President Joe Biden: (25:17)
Well, first of all, there’s no guarantee you can change a person’s behavior or the behavior of his country. Autocrats have enormous power and they don’t have to answer to a public. And the fact is that it may very well be if I respond in kind, which I will, that it doesn’t dissuade him, he wants to keep going. But I think that we’re going to be moving in a direction where Russia has its own dilemmas let us say. Dealing with its economy, dealing with COVID and dealing with not only the United States, but Europe writ large and the Middle East. And so there’s a lot going on where we can work together with Russia, for example, and Libya, we should be opening up the passes to be able to go through and provide food assistance and vital assistance to a population that’s in real trouble. I think I’m going to try very hard to, by the way, there’s places where… I shouldn’t be starting off in negotiating in public here, but let me say it this way.
President Joe Biden: (26:39)
Russia has engaged in activities which we believe are contrary to international norms, but they have also bitten off some real problems they’re going to have trouble chewing on. For example, the rebuilding of Syria, of Libya. They’re there. And as long as they’re there without the ability to bring about some order in the region and you can’t do that very well without providing for the basic economic needs of people, so I’m hopeful that we can find an accommodation that where we can save the lives of people, for example, in Libya, consistent with the interest of, maybe for different reasons, but reaching for the same result.
Peter Alexander: (27:35)
I want to ask you about a comment that Vladimir Putin said today, but why do you think he hasn’t changed his behavior in spite of everything the US has done to this point.
President Joe Biden: (27:45)
He’s Vladimir Putin. I’m not going to get into much more than that, because I’ve got to sit down with him and I’d be happy to talk to you after that.
Peter Alexander: (27:54)
But he said, just to conclude, today He said that Russia would be ready to hand over cyber criminals to the United States if the US would do the same to Russia. And an agreement came out of this meeting coming up. So are you open to that kind of a trade with Vladimir Putin?
President Joe Biden: (28:10)
Yes. I’m open to, if there’s crimes committed against Russia, that in fact the people committing those crimes being harbored in the United States, I’m committed to holding them accountable. And I heard that. I was told as I was flying here that he said that. I think that’s potentially a good sign and progress. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (28:41)
[crosstalk 00:28:41] The European Allies, [inaudible 00:28:42].
President Joe Biden: (28:41)
I’m going to get in trouble with my staff. Yeah, go ahead. But I can pretend that I didn’t answer you.
Speaker 2: (28:48)
Thank you very much, sir. You have often said repeatedly that America is back. At the same time you’ve kept in place some Trump Era steel and aluminum sanctions. And I wanted to ask you, when you’re having these conversations with European Allies who are very concerned about these sanctions, how do you justify that? And what are your plans for-
President Joe Biden: (29:11)
120 days, give me a break. Need time.
Speaker 3: (29:15)
Thank you guys, thanks you so much. Thank you.