TOKYO--When there isn't a crisis, a summit between world leaders churns out very little.
And that was the case with the
Group of Eight
summit held in the southern Japanese island of Okinawa over the weekend that produced only several vague promises. Among the highlights, world leaders vowed to re-launch global trade talks within five months, deciding not to let the protests that took place in Seattle earlier this year rattle their nerves. The officials also said they were worried about the volatility of international oil prices. And a pledge was made between the U.S. and Japan to continue talks over the course of another year about deregulating more of Japan's markets.
All this is fine and dandy, but for a summit that was dubbed the "Information Technology" summit, there really weren't any concrete proposals on the IT front. To be sure, there were hundreds of computers available for the international media attending the summit, and before the start of the summit Japanese Prime Minister
proudly sat in front of a computer to check out the Internet (we hope not for the first time).
In the end, however, the G8 only scantly mentioned they would give more technological help to the "have-nots," but failed to mention specifics. Although an informal meeting among the leaders of Japan, France, Canada, the U.K., Italy, the U.S., Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria and Thailand was held last Thursday on the prospect of drumming up some IT-linked aid, the talks were quite one-sided, said a Foreign Ministry official, who declined to be named.
"With tech shares very volatile this year, I sensed that nobody really wanted to make a commitment of any kind," said the official, who attended the meeting that included the top brass from
. There was an informal agreement for the G8 to help organize international IT conferences between the governments of developing nations and the private sector, the official said.
On another tech front, the
World Economic Forum
also drummed up some press when it handed premier Mori a checklist of what the G8 can do to lessen the so-called digital divide between rich and poor countries. Firms that are involved with the World Economic Forum program include
Computer Associates International
International Business Machine
The original G7 agenda about the economy has rapidly expanded to include security and social issues. Russia, which is not an official member of the group, participated this time, making it a G8 summit. Other than the suggestions, however, the summit turned out to be one giant photo opportunity. A summit is never an ideal place to talk about specific proposals and plans since they are so orchestrated and leave little time for serious discussion.
"A failure of strong leadership from the heads of government ... means the results are almost inevitably these long lists of marginal things," Fred Bergsten, director of the
Institute for International Economics
in Okinawa said of the meeting.
wrote about trading in
Asian markets in a separate story.