Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

G-7 nations fear long-term growth may be subdued


Top finance officials from seven advanced economies have gathered to hear more about U.S. President Donald Trump's economic policies on taxation and trade as well as to look for ways to promote growth, combat terrorist financing and stop tax avoidance by major corporations.

Besides ministers and governors from the Group of Seven - comprising Canada, the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and Japan, top officials from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also joined the meeting.

G7 members have said they want a better sense of the plans of US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to upset the global consensus of recent decades on issues such as trade and rules for the financial services industry.

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, May 12, 2017.

The draft, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, also said the G7 financial leaders would strengthen cooperation to counter cyber threats such as a global online attack which infected tens of thousands of computers in almost 100 countries on Friday.

At that meeting, ministers dropped their traditional pledge to keep global free trade open, bowing to an increasingly protectionist United States, and said only that they were "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".

"All the six others. said explicitly, and sometimes very directly, to the representatives of the U.S. administration that it is absolutely necessary to continue with the same spirit of worldwide cooperation", Sapin told reporters at the end of the G7 meeting in southern Italy.

Mnuchin told reporters that he did not think Friday's attack showed the financial system was unprepared but he said more could still be done at the company level.

"(But) we avoided some discussions which would have been more damaging, like the border adjustment tax, which is no longer on the table at this moment", he said.

Mnuchin is taking the opportunity to lay out the Trump administration's views on trade.

The U.S.'s deal to boost exports of gas and beef to China - agreed on Friday - also gives an indication on how the world's biggest economy may progress going forward, according to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters.

This meeting helps lay the foundation for the G7 meeting of global leaders that will take place later this month in which President Trump will attend.

Trump will decide whether to quit the global Paris agreement on climate change - a campaign promise - after meeting leaders at a G7 summit on May 26-27, the White House has said.

"We want to have balanced trade", Mr Mnuchin said.

Other issues discussed included debt relief for Greece.

"Our objective is to create opportunities for American workers to make things and export them", said Mnuchin, pointing to the administration's recent move to allow USA farmers to sell beef to China.

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