Saturday, 27 May, 2017

G7 keeps watered-down pledge to promote free trade

United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin right is flanked by Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso following their bilateral talks at the G7 of Ministers of finance in Bari southern Italy Friday G7 to give unchanged message on trade, foreign exchange: official Add to ...
Laurie Berry | 20 May, 2017, 02:48

European G7 officials complain that no-one knows what the U.S. means by "fair trade" and that the only way to establish fairness was by sticking to the rules of the World Trade Organisation - a multilateral framework.

The meeting of the Group of 7 finance ministers in the southern Italian seaside town of Bari kicked off Friday with a discussion with economists on how to make growth benefit more people.

Hammond said that he was at the meeting to "ensure a fair deal for Britain out of global trade to work together with our partners here to protect British citizens from external security threats", as well as ensuring that global companies pay their fair share of taxes in Britain.

"Our approach is for more balanced trade, and people have heard that", Mnuchin said. Since taking office, his administration has issued a report that names two G-7 countries, Germany and Japan, for special monitoring due to their large trade surpluses with the US and has sparked a trade battle with Canada, another G-7 country, by imposing higher tariffs on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. He said they understand that "we don't want to be protectionist, but we reserve our right to be protectionist to the extent we believe trade is not free and fair".

The final statement from the Bari meeting included a reference to "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies", a word-for-word reproduction from March's G-20 in Baden-Baden, Germany.

A "Bari Policy Agenda" signed at the meeting would provide an overall framework within which the G7 governments would try to foster a more inclusive growth through such tools.

The U.S. Treasury Secretary's first G-7 outing came in the wake of an announcement a deal to boost the country's exports of gas and beef to China.

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Trade issues are likely to be taken up at a G-7 leaders' summit on May 26 to 27 in Taormina, Sicily, that Trump will attend.

He said the Trump administration's economic policies aren't directly aimed at pursuing policies that would restrict trade, but rather are meant to spur US growth and aid the global economy.

Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said continued uncertainty about US policy could dampen optimism within the G-7 about the global economy's gradual recovery from the financial crisis that began almost a decade ago.

They also vowed to cooperate more against cyber crime, finance the global anti-terror fight, and promote a fair tax system including digital economy.

The group, consisting of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and U.K, also called for a renewed common effort against cybercrime.

The group's agreements aren't legally binding; instead, they represent the leaders' political commitment to follow through.

The Italian G7 presidency has listed security as a "global public good" - including issues related to anti-terrorism financing, remittances and cyber security - and one of its four finance priorities.

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